On Our Selection
Towards the end of 1895 Davis sent to The Bulletin a sketch Starting The Selection based on his father's experience. The sketch was published on 14 December 1895. Encouraged by J. F. Archibald, the editor and publisher of The Bulletin, Davis continued writing the series of sketches. The stories were originally written about different families but accepting a suggestion by A. G. Stephens, a writer at The Bulletin, the work was reconstructed as the experiences of the Rudd family.
In Australian history, a selection was a "free selection before survey" of crown land under legislation introduced in the 1860s, similar to the United States Homestead Act. Selectors often came into conflict with squatters, who already occupied the land and often managed to circumvent the law.
The Bulletin published the illustrated collection comprising 26 stories in 1899 as On Our Selection. Within four years 20,000 copies had been printed. It afterwards appeared in numerous cheap editions and by 1940 the number of copies sold had reached 250,000.
The stories have also been the basis of a play and several films. Davis sold the rights to a stage version of On Our Selection to Bert Bailey. The play was first produced by his company on 4 May 1912 at the Palace Theatre, Sydney. The play version deviated from the original version by the addition of subplots involving murder and a love triangle. Though it did well in Australia, it failed in London in 1920. In 1920, Davis sold the film rights to the stories to producer E.J. Carroll. Carroll did not have the rights to Bert Bailey's play adaptations, so the plot was based directly on the original work. Raymond Longford directed the 1920 silent film version of On Our Selection. In 1932, Bert Bailey's stage version was filmed in a talking film version of the stories. The 1932 film version of On Our Selection was directed by Ken G. Hall, who also co-wrote the script with Bailey. Most of the cast had appeared in the stage version. The movie was one of the most popular Australian films of all time. In 1995, a new version titled Dad and Dave: On Our Selection was produced, a remake of the 1920 silent film version, the version which was by then in the public domain. The film was presented as an honour to the centenary of Australian cinema, but the version was not especially successful. There was also a radio series of the work.
- Van Ikin (1981). "Davis, Arthur Hoey (Steele Rudd) (1868 - 1935)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8. MUP. pp. 235–236. Retrieved 2008-09-01.
- Graham Shirley and Brian Adams, Australian Cinema: The First Eighty Years, Currency Press, 1989 p 57
- Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, 158.
- On Our Selection by Steele Rudd (Arthur Hoey Davis)
- National Library of Australia
- On Our Selection by Steele