Meanjin was founded in Brisbane by Clem Christesen (the name, pronounced Mee-an-jin, is derived from an Aboriginal word for the finger of land on which central Brisbane sits) in 1940. It moved to Melbourne in 1945 at the invitation of the University of Melbourne. It currently receives funding from the university, the Literature Fund of the Australia Council for the Arts, CAL and Arts Victoria as well as receiving vital support through subscriptions and other sales. At the beginning of 2008 Meanjin became an imprint of Melbourne University Publishing.
Known primarily as a literary magazine, Christesen ensured thatMeanjin reflected the breadth of contemporary thinking, be it on literature, other art forms, or the broader issues of the times. This breadth has characterised Meanjin for more than 70 years, continuing under its eight subsequent editors – Jim Davidson, Judith Brett, Jenny Lee, Christina Thompson, Stephanie Holt, Ian Britain, Sophie Cunningham and Sally Heath. A list of the contributors to Meanjin includes Australian writers Judith Wright, Kylie Tennant, Manning Clark, Vance & Nettie Palmer, A D Hope, Dymphna Cusack, Martin Boyd, Alan Marshall, Dorothy Hewett, Peter Singer, Vincent Buckley, Donald Horne, Patrick White, Gwen Harwood, Bruce Dawe, David Malouf, Humphrey McQueen, Jack Hibberd, Roberta Sykes, Helen Garner, Alex Miller, Frank Moorhouse, John Morrison, Hal Porter, Rodney Hall, A A Phillips, Peter Carey, Alice Pung, Michelle de Kretser, J M Coetzee, Carmen Callil and Dorothy Porter. International authors published include Jean-Paul Sartre, and Kurt Vonnegut.