September Members Meeting

Friday 3 September 7.30pm

Dr Anne Black

The overlooked Pendragon: George Isaacs

George Isaacs (1825–1876), otherwise known by his apt pseudonym A. Pendragon, is a neglected figure in South Australian history. Isaacs’ book The Queen of the South, based on his experiences on the Victorian gold fields, was the first novel published in South Australia. His burlesque on Frankenstein is recognized as Australia’s first science fiction. Isaacs was the inspiration behind the iconic anthem The Song of Australia, and was co-founder (and Surprising Sham) of Gawler’s famed Humbug Society. This colonial immigrant captured the dynamic atmosphere of his era in his writing, but he did not fit comfortably into society. Set apart by an unconventional private life, his Jewish heritage, his fierce intelligence and his willingness to speak and write his mind, he led a surprisingly varied life across two hemispheres and two Australian colonies. Isaacs’ legacy embodies the spirit of an adaptable, enterprising and above all, optimistic nineteenth-century Australian immigrant.

Anne Black received the Dean’s Commendation from the University of Adelaide in 2016 for her PhD on the life and work of the Jewish colonial immigrant, George Isaacs. Her biography, Pendragon: The life of George Isaacs, colonial wordsmith, has recently been published by Wakefield Press.

Anne’s research on George Isaacs was assisted by a grant from the Historical Society of SA. This year she received a History Council award as Emerging Historian.

As Anne Black is interstate, the meeting will be broadcast live over Zoom.