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Mary Grant Bruce (1878 - 1958) was born in Victoria, Australia, and died in Sussex. She won the Shakespeare Society’s annual prize several times, having started writing at the age of seven, with an epic on a mad Tsar. She then started work as a journalist, continuing to write articles for magazines while she wrote her books. Her publications were many, but her best known series was the Billabong books. The series stretched to 15 titles, starting with A Little Bush Maid in 1910. This first appeared as a serial in the Leader, and with it, the Linton family was launched. Its publication by Ward Lock in London also saw her change of name, Mary being regarded as more saleable than Minnie.


Although Mary Grant Bruce’s own sister-in-law, Lady Evelyn Seton, wrote a denunciation of the books and advised Mary to cut herself free from them, she carried on. The Lintons had become part of Australian national life, and part of how they saw themselves.


“The Lintons' world, threatened from outside, withstood challenge, unchanged and untarnished. Australians, and not only children, looking at Billabong, could see themselves as they wanted to be — mates in fortune and adversity, sturdy, decent and fearless inheritors of a tough, but rewarding land.” (Lynne Strahan)


The books were influential: Auslit says: “Scholars have argued that Bruce's depiction of the bush in her popular series and other books had an enormous impact on the way white Australians viewed their relationship with the land.” In later editions, the Billabong books have been edited: some of their views and assumptions are no longer considered acceptable.


Mary Grant Bruce married an English man, George Bruce and the family moved between Europe and Australia several times. After visiting England in 1954, five years after the death of her husband, Mary Grant Bruce decided to stay, and died in Sussex in 1958.


Sources and links
Austlit
Australian Dictionary of Biography (entry by Lynne Strahan)
Australian Women: biographical entry
More on the Billabong series
Three (at the time of writing) Billabong books are on Project Gutenberg (A Little Bush Maid, Mates at Billabong, Back to Billabong)
A Little Bush Maid & Mates at Billabong: online (you see the illustrations online on this one)



Mary (Minnie) Grant Bruce


The Billabong Series

A Little Bush Maid
Mates at Billabong

Norah of Billabong
From Billabong to London
Jim and Wally
Captain Jim
Back to Billabong
Billabong's Daughter
Billabong Adventurers
Bill of Billabong

Billabong’s Luck
Wings Above Billabong
Billabong Gold
Son of Billabong
Billabong Riders


A Little Bush Maid
Ward Lock, London, 1910, 254 pp.

Angus & Robertson, Pymble, 1996


“In this story we first make the acquaintance of those beloved Billabong characters,
Norah, Jim, Wally and Co. Norah is the true open air bush girl who, without mother
or sister, naturally becomes companion of her brother Jim and his school-friends.
As regards the latter, well, boys will be boys.”

Mates at Billabong
Ward Lock, London, 1911, 252 pp.

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


Cousin Cecil visits - they do their best to put up with him, but it’s not easy, particularly when
he takes off with Norah’s beloved pony.



Norah of Billabong
Ward Lock, London, 1913, 256 pp.

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


Norah goes back to Billabong after being away at boarding school.

From Billabong to London

Ward Lock, London, 1915, 320 pp

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


Jim is now helping his father with a difficult horse. World War One has broken out,
and Jim and Wally want to enlist. When Mr Linton wants to go to London, they
all sail with him, and their ship is almost sunk before they’re rescued.

Jim and Wally
Ward Lock, London, 1916, 256 pp

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


David and Norah Linton are in London when they hear Jim and Wally have
been gassed, and are returning to England. They plan, when the boys are
recovered, to go to Ireland. There they meet Sir John O'Neill, and their
holiday takes a very unexpected turn.”

Captain Jim

Ward Lock, London, 1919, 311 pp.

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


World War One drags on. Jim and Wally return to the Front.
Norah discovers she’s been left an estate in Surrey, and
realises she can use it to help the war effort. Together with
her father, they turn the house into a place for wounded and
exhausted civilians.

Back to Billabong

Ward Lock, London, 1921, 252 pp

Angus & Robertson, Pymble, 1992


Cecilia longs for war to end so her brother Bob can rescue
her from the clutches of her stepmother. An inheritance means
they can go to Australia, and they make friends with the Linton
family, who are travelling on the same ship. Billabong becomes
their haven.

Billabong’s Daughter

Ward Lock, London, 1924, 256 pp.

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


Norah rescues a mother and daughter when their horse runs away with them.
Wally is almost killed and Jim and Norah hope he’ll live.


Billabong Adventurers

Ward Lock, London, 1927, 250 pp

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


Norah and Wally leave Billabong for a honeymoon after a
wonderful wedding at Billabong.

Bill of Billabong

Ward Lock, London, 1931, 256 pp.

Angus & Robertson, Pymble



Billabong’s Luck

Ward Lock, London, 1933, 256 pp.

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


Percival is sent to Billabong as his parents are abroad and his aunt and uncle
can’t cope with him. Percival has red hair, about which he’s teased, and one
day he decides to dye it….


Wings Above Billabong

Ward Lock, London, 1935, 252 pp.

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


Freddy and Jack fly from Queensland to Billabong to help out with
the goldmine. The news that there is gold gets out, and young Bill
is kidnapped.

Billabong Gold

Ward Lock, London, 1937, 256 pp.

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


Dick and his sister Betty go to be companions to Bill. The gold mine is proving
an irresistible attraction, and some very dubious characters turn up. They include
McGill, who wants the Billabong gold.

Son of Billabong

Ward Lock, London, 1939, 255 pp.

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


McGill is imprisoned. Wally is exhausted, and he, Norah and
their child Davie go off to recuperate. Davie is kidnapped by
McGill’s wife.

Billabong Riders

Ward Lock, London, 1952, 192 pp

Angus & Robertson, Pymble


The head cattle drover driving the herd over from Queensland is injured, so Jim and
Wally, along with Norah and Tommy, go off to help.

Bibliography - Pony Books Only