Thesis complete

I have been indebted in the preparation of this thesis to my supervisors Dr Pam Macintyre and Dr Marnee Watkins. Pam’s enthusiasm and passion for literature is contagious while her encouragement and timely suggestions were invaluable in inspiring and challenging me from the very early stages of this research. Marnee’s constructive comments, and her ability to ‘see’ my thesis from a visual perspective nourished an oasis of ideas and possibilities. Above all, Pam and Marnee provided me with enormous encouragement and support in a plethora of ways that has enriched my growth as a student and as a researcher. I thank them for their honesty, and friendship.
This thesis arose from a chance comment by Helen Dixon, Olga Ernst’s daughter in the staffroom at Mt. Dandenong Primary School. I am grateful to Helen and her extended family who generously shared their memories of Olga and their understanding of family history: Henry Dixon, Mary Newham, David Waller, Gwen Winter, Margaret Ford, Trevor M…

A new audience for 'old' Australian fairy tales?

The Internet offers collaborative possibilities as well as the ease of sharing. This blog, maintained as a writing tool for five years, has shared research that may not appear in my thesis. It also explored the personal narrative of a PhD journey as well as my relationship with Ernst’s work. Interested relatives and other acquaintances interstate and overseas discovered my blog through search engines. They have added to the research data available in State and Lutheran archival records and made personal papers and photographs available. Patterson and Lindberg (1991) claim that, ‘the private papers of authors and artists are important to the cause of learning’ (218) on two levels: one to allow insight and understanding about, the creative process of the author and at another as the ‘cultural heritage’ of how an author’s work has shaped or reflected for the reader, their environment. Relatives who have contacted me through my blog have offered further insight through their anecdotes, ph…

Australian fairy tales firmly fixed in the bush environment

In the bush near Olinda Creek Falls we are transported into the 1900s to recreate the atmosphere that inspired Ernst to place her fairies in the bush. This month the Women's History Network published a blog post from me that discussed the life and fairy tales of German national Beatrice Wilcken. Wilcken also set her stories in the bush in New South Wales.

Larrikins, bush tales and other great Australian stories

I have just finished Graham Seal's new book Larrikins, bush tales and other great Australian stories. A comfortable 'read' after thesis tomes, full of interesting yarns, tall tales and intriguing details that come to life in a fascinating 'storyscape'. I'll admit I meandered through it with a coffee in hand, choosing chapters at will. I began with the chapter 'After the Kelly's' as it connected me to my own family story of my great grandmother who was given a lift to school by Ned himself. Blog Link to story How many stories such as this are passed down through the generations and beg to be told. Seal has rescued some of them from obscurity.
Seal's comments on Olga Ernst in this book made a late entry into my thesis. His labelling of Australian fairies as 'fairies in the paddock' had a resonance as I agreed that our fairies liked to live on the fringes of the towns, in the paddocks and the surrounding bush not far from human habitation. I…

Hans Ernst : The 'Kangaroo' plumber

This post is not about fairy tales but about one of the 'off ramps' of research that make it such a fabulous journey. I was fascinated by the achievements of Olga Ernst's younger brother and discovering a University prize in Melbourne named in his honour. This blog post thanks his grandchildren Gail, Belinda, Jon and Alice and his niece Helen Dixon for assisting my research.

Who was Hans Ernst?
There were no babysitters in the small mountain town of Wandiligong where his mother Olga Ernst (nee Johanna Olga Straubel), a young widow of 34, was given a position as an Assistant Teacher in 1897. Consequently Hans began school earlier than most children grasping the opportunity to learn in his mother's schools.

Keen to fly planes, Hans Ernst left in his 20s Australia working his passage over to the US on board a ship. Though his career in California began as a bicycle repairman his ability to see what needed to be improved was soon obvious. H…

Adapting The Elves and the Shoemaker into a 21st Century fairy tale (In German)

To celebrate another year of 'slowly' learning German here is my Christmas Post, as usual, in German. My research focuses on how the fairy tales Ernst wrote were shaped by the Australian landscape and her environment. I decided to adapt the plot and structure of a well-known Grimm fairytale '805_Wichtelmaenner' into a fairy tale that resonated with my life. So, if I had two little elves who would do my work while I slept I would hope they would finish the School Timetable with 20 classes, 4 specialist programs and numerous other events that change weekly. Frohe Weihnachten to all the readers of this blog.
Die Elfen und die stellvertretende Schulleiterin Es war einmal eine stellvertretende Schulleiterin von einer mittelgroßen Schule, die hart arbeitete und eine gute Lehrerin war: aber sie war nicht so gut in die Zeitpläne machen, so dass alle Schüler lernen, was sie wissen müssen. Am Abend bevor das Term begann, mussten die Zeitpläne fertig sein. Sie machte eine Tabelle si…