During History Week 2012 Melissa Bellanta spoke at Shirt Bar in Sussex Lane, Sydney.

From the late 1860s, a youth subculture associated with a so-called 'larrikin' identity evolved on the streets of the capitals of the Australian colonies. This larrikin identity took its cue from 'flash' or streetwise types to be found in places such as Paddy's Market, at fairgrounds, in pub singing rooms and cheap theatres.

This talk explores the sartorial style that evolved among self-described larrikins in the 1870s and 1880s, as well as its sources of cultural inspiration and the material ways in which it was sourced and put together by poor late-colonial youth.

Melissa Bellanta is an historian interested in Australian popular culture, gender and social history. Her recent book Larrikins: A History looks at the poor urban youth known as larrikins between 1870 and 1930 – youth of both sexes who developed their own 'rough' subculture and were notoriously involved in crime on the streets. A blend of social, urban, cultural and theatrical history, the book explores the cheap variety theatres, blackface minstrel shows, boxing tents, football matches, dance halls, city markets, pubs, prison cells, vacant lots and street corners frequented by Australia's first larrikins. Both the book and Melissa’s other research will be of interest to readers wanting to find out more about street gangs, ‘flash’ fashions, sensational youth crimes, popular entertainments, urban communities and developing notions of Australianness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Brought to you by the History Council of NSW as part of the History Week 2012 Speaker Connect program in partnership with the Royal Australian Historical Society and proudly supported by the Copyright Agency Limited and the Your Community Heritage Program.

Created by Prorevolution Films for the History Council of NSW.

Loading more stuff…

Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?

Loading videos…