About the novel
Picnic at Hanging Rock is an Australian historical fiction novel by Joan Lindsay. Set in 1900, it is about a group of female students at an Australian girls' boarding school who vanish at Hanging Rock while on a Valentine's Day picnic, and the effects the disappearances have on the school and local community. The novel was first published in 1967 in Australia by Cheshire Publishing and was reprinted by Penguin in 1975. It is widely considered by critics to be one of the best Australian novels.
Although the events depicted in the novel are entirely fictional, it is framed as though it were a true story, corroborated by ambiguous pseudohistorical references. Its unresolved conclusion has sparked significant public, critical, and scholarly analysis, and the narrative has become a part of Australia's national folklore as a result. Lindsay claimed to have written the novel over two weeks at her home Mulberry Hill in Baxter, on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, after having successive dreams of the narrated events. (Wikipdedia)
- Criterion - PAHR: What we see and what we seem
This articles provides a critical review of the 1975 film.
- NFSA - Picnic at Hanging Rock curated resources
This website contains links to scenes, costumes, clips relating to the 1975 Picnic at Hanging Rock film.
- NFSA - Picnic at Hanging Rock online exhibition
Navigate through this online exhibition from NSFA, exploring the characters, costumes and the making of the film.
- NFSA - Return to Hanging Rock
The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia website contains resources reflecting on the impact of the 1975 film, such as a Q and A with actor Anne Louise Lambert (Miranda) and outtakes from the film which didn't make it to the final edit.
- RLA Press - Beauty, myth and monolith
Click on File/s to access the full article. This extended analysis of the evidence of spiritual and sacred myth in Picnic at Hanging Rock.
- Senses of Cinema - Film analysis
This article provides a film analysis of Picnic at Hanging Rock, examining the effectiveness of camera angles, use of juxtaposition, motifs and imagery.
- University of Melbourne - Why the lost daughters of PAHR still haunt us
This article examines the enduring appeal of this story and its representation of young women, from the book, to 1975 film, to the 2018 miniseries
- Discussion questions
This PDF provides a brief overview of the author and synopsis of the book, as well as questions to consider for deeper reflection on the book.
- LaTrobe Journal - Joan Lindsay
This articles provides an overview of the life and career of Joan Lindsay and the influence on PAHR.
- LitCharts - Picnic at Hanging Rock
This study guide provides an overview and analysis of the plot, characters and themes for Picnic at Hanging Rock.
- National Library of Australia - Picnic at Hanging Rock
This activity provides students with context and background information about the physical location and cultural environment in which Picnic at Hanging Rock is set.
- Sydney Morning Herald - The extraordinary story behind PAHR
This article reveals the extraordinary story of Joan Lindsay and the writing of the book from a series of dreams.
- The Wheeler Centre - Picnic at Hanging Rock
Helen Withycombe hosts a conversation between Lindsay's biographer Janelle McCulloch, theatremaker Tom Wright (who adapted the play for Malthouse Theatre in 2016) and Helen Morse, who played the French teacher in Peter Weir's film version of the story. They discuss the true story (and the mysticism) that inspired Lindsay, the book's refractions of nature and time, the troubling history of Hanging Rock itself and why Lindsay’s tale continues to haunt and provoke Australian storytellers today.
- The Wheeler Centre: Literature 102 - PAHR
What happened to the schoolgirls and their teacher who were seemingly swallowed up by their surroundings on a fated picnic at Hanging Rock? Writer, editor and publisher Sophie Cunningham and series host James Ley discuss this iconic story.
Cultural significance of Hanging Rock
Cultural significance of Hanging Rock
Hanging Rock (also known as Mount Diogenes, Dryden's Rock, and to some of its traditional owners as Ngannelong) is a distinctive geological formation in central Victoria, Australia. A former volcano, it lies 718m above sea level (105m above plain level) on the plain between the two small townships of Newham and Hesket, approximately 70 km north-west of Melbourne and a few kilometres north of Mount Macedon.
In the middle of the 19th century, the traditional occupants of the place – tribes of the Dja Dja Wurrung, Woi Wurrung and Taungurung – were forced from it. They had been its occupants for thousands of years and, colonisation notwithstanding, have continued to maintain cultural and spiritual connections with the place.
To the settler colonialist society, Hanging Rock became a place for recreation and tourism. It came alternately under private, government, and mixed public-private control.
In the late 20th century, the area became very widely known as the setting of Joan Lindsay's novel Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Joan à Beckett Lindsay (16 November 1896 – 23 December 1984), also known as Lady Lindsay, was an Australian novelist, playwright, essayist, and visual artist. Trained in her youth as a painter, Lindsay published her first literary work in 1936 at age forty under a pseudonym, a satirical novel titled Through Darkest Pondelayo. Her second novel, Time Without Clocks, was published nearly thirty years later, and was a semi-autobiographical account of the early years of her marriage to artist Daryl Lindsay.
In 1967, Lindsay published her most celebrated work, Picnic at Hanging Rock, a historical Gothic novel detailing the vanishing of three schoolgirls and their teacher at the site of a monolith during one summer. The novel sparked critical and public interest for its ambivalent presentation as a true story as well as its vague conclusion, and is widely considered to be one of the most important Australian novels. It was adapted into a 1975 film of the same name. (Wikipedia)
List of main characters from the novel - For information on each character visit Lit Charts
- Mrs Appleyard - Founder and headmistress of Appleyard College
- Madamoiselle Dianne de Poitiers - Dance and French
- Miss Greta McCraw - Mathematics
- Miss Dora Lumley - Junior
- Miss Buck - Junior
- Miranda, Irma Leopold, Marion Quade - Seniors boarders
- Sara Waybourne - Youngest boarder
- Edith Horton - College dunce
- Rosamund, Blanche - Other boarders
Other College Staff
- Edward Whitehead - College gardener
- Irish Tom - College handyman
See novel for list of characters
(n.d.).National Library of Australia Cultural perspectives in literature. Picnic at Hanging Rock Retrieved December 3, 2020, from https://www.nla.gov.au/digital-classroom/year-7/literature
(2018). Sanders, D. Why the lost daughters of Picnic at Hanging Rock still haunt us Retrieved December 3, 2020, from https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/why-the-lost-daughters-of-picnic-at-hanging-rock-still-haunt-us
(2017). McCulloch, J. The extraordinary story behind Picnic at Hanging Rock. Retrieved December 3, 2020, from https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/the-extraordinary-story-behind-picnic-at-hanging-rock-20170328-gv7upc.html
(n.d.). Heffernan, E. Valentines Day 1900 Retrieved December 3, 2020, from https://www.rahs.org.au/valentines-day-1900/
(2017). Chris Conti, ‘Did it Really Happen? Picnic at Hanging Rock‘, Sydney Review of Books , Retrieved December 3, 2020, from <https://sydneyreviewofbooks.com/picnic-at-hanging-rock>
(2017). Spiers, A. ‘What really happened at Hanging Rock’ Retrieved December 3, 2020, from, <https://www.vice.com/en_au/article/qkzzzv/what-really-happened-at-hanging-rock>,