'Looking through time itself': Henry Handel Richardson and the Haunting of Lake View

Brigid Louise Magner


Located in the Victorian goldfields town of Chiltern, Lake View was the childhood home of well-known expatriate Australian novelist Henry Handel Richardson (Ethel Florence Richardson). Lake View was the site of great personal trauma for Richardson, which she explored in her novel Ultima Thule, the third volume of the acclaimed Fortunes of Richard Mahony trilogy. In 1912, revisiting Lake View to undertake research for this trilogy, Richardson encountered her ‘phantom self’ and communed with the spectre of her late father, enabling her to textually re-animate him. As a preserved literary site, Lake View today is dense with spectral phenomena, providing opportunities for haunting and encounter through engagement with various texts, objects and practices. The first part of this article offers a reading of fictional and autobiographical texts related to Lake View. The second part investigates authorial relics residing at Lake View which function as talismans for those seeking connection with the departed author. The third part compares Lake View tourism with the better known and more popular form of themed local tourism, goldmining tourism. This article argues that Lake View, with its layers of psychic resonance, offers a uniquely palimpsestic experience — mediated by its curation and narration by guides and visitors — enabling further exploration of the interconnections between spectral geography and cultural tourism in an Australian context.


literary tourism; spectro geography; Australian literature

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Copyright (c) 2016 Brigid Louise Magner