Sybylla Melvyn, the young heroine of My Brilliant Career is like us:
The pleasure, so exquisite as to be almost pain, which I derived from the books, and especially the Australian poets, is beyond description. In the narrow peasant life of Possum Gully I had been deprived of companionship with people of refinement and education who would talk of the things I loved; but, at last here was congeniality, here was companionship. (Ch. 9)
I presume a bit, but she is, right? Books are a precious commodity in the Australian bush. Sybylla is horrified whenever she finds herself stuck in a house without books. And here she finds herself, after a long reading drought, in a house with books:
... my attention was arrested by what I considered the gem of the whole turn-out. I refer to a nice little bookcase containing copies of all our Australian poets, and two or three dozen novels which I had often longed to read. I read the first chapters of four of them, and then lost myself in Gordon, and sat on my dressing-table in my nightgown, regardless of cold, until brought to my senses by the breakfast-bell. (Ch. 9)
What does Sybylla like to read?
The regret of it all was I could never meet them – Byron, Thackeray, Dickens, Longfellow, Gordon, Kendall, the men I loved, all were dead; but, blissful thought! Caine, Paterson, and Lawson were still living, breathing human beings – two of them actually countrymen, fellow Australians! (Ch. 9)
Hall Caine has appeared at Wuthering Expectations before, having written The Deemster, one of the 100 best novels of all time; he is from the Isle of Man. Otherwise, the names less familiar to me are Australian, members of the first great generation of Australian literature: Banjo Paterson, who wrote “Waltzing Matilda,” Henry Lawson, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Henry Kendall. Other than some random facts about Paterson – I don’t forget a name like Banjo Paterson – I know nothing about these writers.
But the Australians are the ones the narrator returns to throughout the book, giving me the pleasure of meeting an unknown literary tradition. That is the tradition she wants to join, and presumably does join, given the evidence of the text of the novel, memoir for Sybylla, novel for Miles Franklin. Henry Lawson actually wrote the preface to the novel, published when Franklin was twenty-one.  A proud literary nationalist, he emphasizes the Australianness of the book and the author – “the book is true to Australia”.
A digression - to me, this is the most perfectly Australian sentence in the novel: “Several doors and windows of the long room opened into the garden, and, provided one had no fear of snakes, it was delightful to walk amid the flowers and cool oneself between dances.”
Amazingly – I mean, it seems amazing given that I only know her as a sixteen year old – Miles Franklin is herself now at the center of Australian literature as a pioneering female author and the founder of the premier Australian literary prize.
If anyone would like to tell me about Franklin’s other books, I would enjoy that. The sequel to My Brilliant Career has a fine title: My Career Goes Bung.