Australian novels of WWI: some recommendations

April 25, Anzac Day text

Fifteen years ago, I started my PhD journey looking at Australian stories of World War I. I wanted to discover how Australian writers of WWI transformed their experiences into fiction. Arguably, I’ve read more of these books than anyone in the world. Here are my recommendations for Australian stories you might like to read, if you’re interested in Australian perspectives of war.

Some people said


But there are, and I discovered that Australian stories are different from the famous WWI texts of the English-speaking world (but that would be another post!).

Here are my selected reading lists for Australian novels of WWI. Copy and paste a title into your library catalogue (or preferred retailer) and get reading. I need more people to talk about these with! So read on …

Books of the Time:

By Australian veterans (first published; most recently published):

Leonard Mann, Flesh in Armour (1932;2008)

J.P. McKinney, Crucible (1935; 2012)

Frederic Manning, The Middle Parts of Fortune (1929/30; 2012)

Ion Idriess, The Desert Column (1935; 2017)

G.D. Mitchell, Backs to the Wall (1937; 2007)

By non-combatants (first published; most recently published):

Mary Grant Bruce,  From Billabong to London (1914; 2019), Jim and Wally (1915; 2019), Captain Jim (1916; 2022), and Back to Billabong (1919; 2015).

Ethel Turner, The Cub: Six Months in his Life: a Story in War-Time (1915; 1958), Captain Cub (1917), Brigid and the Cub (1919).

2000s Australian WWI Novels:

A selection. There are more.

Ian Callinan, After the Monsoon (2004)

John Charalambous, An Accidental Soldier (2014)

Jackie French, A Rose for the Anzac Boys (2008)

Stephen Daisley, Traitor (2009)

David Metzenthen, Boys of Blood and Bone  (2003)

David Metzenthen, Black Water (2007)

Clare Rhoden, The Stars in the Night (2017)

Brenda Walker, The Wing of Night (2005)

Sheila Walker, The Ghost at the Wedding (2010)

Chris Womersley, Bereft (2010)

Peter Yeldham, Barbed Wire And Roses (2007)


Please let me know if/when you’ve read any of these. I’d love to discuss 🙂


I'd love to hear your ideas on this!

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