To the Islands

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To the Islands
First UK edition
Author Randolph Stow
Country Australia
Language English
Publisher Macdonald & Co. (UK)[1]
Penguin Books (Australia)[2]
Publication date
Media type Print (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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ Stow, Randolph (1959), To the Islands, Macdonald, ISBN 978-0-436-49732-2 
  2. ^ Stow, Randolph (1962), To the Islands, Penguin, 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.) (2015), To the Islands (Revised ed.), Melbourne, Victoria Text Publishing Company, ISBN 978-1-925240-29-0 
  7. ^ "The Case for Randolph Stow", The Conversation, 24 June 2014

See also[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Miles Franklin Award recipient
Succeeded by
The Big Fellow