Mark Twain Down Under

‘Australian history’, according to Mark Twain, lecturing in Australia in 1895 to raise some much needed cash,

is almost always picturesque; indeed, it is so curious and strange, that it is itself the chiefest novelty the country has to offer, and so it pushes the other novelties into second and third place. It does not read like history, but like the most beautiful lies. And all of a fresh new sort, no mouldy old stale ones. It is full of surprises, and adventures, and incongruities, and contradictions, and incredibilities; but they are all true, they all happened.

The Wayward Tourist: Mark Twain’s Adventures in Australia; introduction by Don Watson, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic., 2007; first published 2006; extracts from Following the Equator, originally published in 1897, p. 65.

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