To the Islands

Last updated

To the Islands
First UK edition
Author Randolph Stow
Country Australia
Language English
PublisherMacdonald & Co. (UK) [1]
Penguin Books (Australia) [2]
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback, Paperback, Audio-book)
Followed by Tourmaline  

To the Islands is a 1958 novel by Australian author Randolph Stow. It won the Miles Franklin Award for 1958 and the ALS Gold Medal [3] in 1959.


Plot summary

The novel is set in a remote Anglican mission in the Kimberley in the far north of Western Australia.

The protagonist is Heriot - based partially on the figure of Ernest Gribble - the principal chaplain of the mission, who commits an act of violence against an Aboriginal man, and who subsequently disappears into the wilderness.

Publication history

Originally published in England in 1958, and the USA in 1959, the novel was the first novel published by Penguin Australia in 1962. A revised edition appeared in 1981 published by Angus and Robertson. [4] Audio book editions appeared in the 2000s. [5] Text Publishing, in its republishing Australian novels, produced their edition in 2015. [6]


On the novel's re-issue in 2014, Suzie Gibson in The Conversation stated that "Although Stow’s novel presents us with challenging social, political and historical issues, it was never denied literary merit. Indeed the power of Stow’s prose is the equal of anyone’s from Patrick White to Christina Stead; it is exquisite in its sparseness, precision and surprising beauty. The frankness and difficulty of the subject matter is counter-balanced by the splendour of Stow’s memorable turns of phrase." [7]

Awards and nominations

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  1. Stow, Randolph (1958), To the Islands, Macdonald (published 1959), ISBN   978-0-436-49732-2
  2. Stow, Randolph (1975), To the Islands, Penguin (published 1962), ISBN   978-0-14-070001-5
  3. "Papers of Randolph Stow" National Library of Australia
  4. Stow, Randolph (1981), To the Islands (Rev. ed.), Angus & Robertson, ISBN   978-0-207-14449-3
  5. Stow, Randolph; Greenslade, Francis (2003), To the Islands, Louis Braille Audio, ISBN   978-0-7320-2694-3
  6. Stow, Randolph; Brennan, Bernadette, (writer of introduction.) (26 August 2015), To the Islands (Revised ed.), Melbourne, Victoria Text Publishing Company (published 2015), ISBN   978-1-925240-29-0 {{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. "The Case for Randolph Stow", The Conversation, 24 June 2014
  8. ""Let's look again at Randolph Stow's achievement" By Bob Smith". Woroni, 1 May 1962, p2. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  9. "Austlit - To the Islands - Awards". Austlit. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by Miles Franklin Award recipient
Succeeded by