Arcadian Adelaide in Adelaide Arcade

With SA History Month in full swing, it would be remiss of us not to highlight an extraordinary episode carried out in print in 1905, beginning with the publication of a small pamphlet entitled Arcadian Adelaide.

When the pseudonymous author, Thistle Anderson, issued her 40-page booklet deriding the city & its inhabitants, it resulted in societal uproar.

Those who visit the city of many whited sepulchres on business, are forgiven – those who come on pleasure bent should be relegated to asylums for the insane.

Accompanying the roasting afforded Arcadian Adelaide in The Advertiser, other newspapers and subsequent Letters to the Editor, was a hurriedly printed defence In Vindication Of Adelaide & Its People penned by Mrs F. Ellis & entitled A Scratch From An Adelaide “Cat” [referencing Anderson’s feline description of The Women of Adelaide]. Her Dedication reads:

To my slandered brothers & sisters in dear old Adelaide I respectfully dedicate this wee book

Continuing the episode, Anderson released her rebuttal, The Arcadians, this time revealing her true identity as Mrs Herbert Fisher. She spends three pages lambasting Ellis’ A Scratch From An Adelaide Cat.

To err is human, to forgive is culpable; still we can find it in our heart to pardon her excruciatingly funny English, mostly slang

Although both of Anderson’s booklets were reprinted numerous times, original copies of this ephemeral outburst are rare, but Wakefield Press issued a reprint, published with a commentary by historian Derek Whitelock, in 1985. Mrs Ellis’ defence of Adelaide was issued only once & is thus rarer still.

Our copies are currently on display in our front window – opposite the Historical Photo Exhibition in Adelaide Arcade – or available to purchase online [CLICK HERE]

Leave a Reply