Marjorie Barnard (1897–1987) and Flora Eldershaw (1897–1956) were prolific Australian authors who co-wrote, under the pseudonym “M. Barnard Eldershaw,” five novels and four works of nonfiction published between 1929 and 1947. Their final collaboration, a future fiction entitled Tomorrow and Tomorrow, first appeared in Melbourne in 1947 and was reissued by the London feminist publisher Virago in 1983. Lyman Tower Sargent’s bibliography of Australian utopian fiction describes the novel thus: “Dystopia. Public opinion sampling used to limit liberty.” This is a reasonable enough shorthand description of the novel’s frame narrative, set in the “Tenth Commune” located somewhere in what is now the Riverina district on the border of New South Wales and Victoria, at some time in the twenty-fourth century. This article will argue, however, that the Tenth Commune is closer to a flawed eutopia than an outright dystopia; and that the novel’s truly dystopian content lies in its core narrative, Knarf’s novelistic account of mid-twentieth century Australia, which culminates in a quasi-apocalyptic destruction by fire of the city of Sydney. The extraordinary violence of this account will be contrasted to the essentially nonviolent character of the Tenth Commune and both will be situated in relation to Barnard’s growing involvement in the pacifist Peace Pledge Union.

You do not currently have access to this content.