The Torrens as a Space of Writing, Reading, and Performance

Chambers, Helen (2022). The Torrens as a Space of Writing, Reading, and Performance. In: Liebich, Susann and Publicover, Laurence eds. Shipboard Literary Cultures: Reading, Writing, and Performing at Sea. Maritime Literature and Culture. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 185–210.



Drawing on the few extant passenger diaries and letters written aboard the ship, this chapter argues that the fast composite clipper Torrens—with her predominantly first-class, well-educated passengers, and her unusually long poop deck, well-lit saloon, and spacious first-class cabins—provided a uniquely privileged moving environment for private and shared reading, for writing, and for musical and dramatic performances during her annual return voyages between London and Adelaide in the late nineteenth century. Most famously, the Torrens was where Joseph Conrad, as First Officer, wrote parts of his first novel Almayer’s Folly; but this chapter focuses predominantly on the literary activities of other individuals who travelled on it, building on Robert Darnton’s work on the ‘where’ of reading and on Andrew Hassam’s work on migrant voyages to Australia to investigate not only the how, why and what of writing, reading and performing, but also the where.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions
No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions