Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making Their Mark
1 Jan 2011
University of Queensland Press
The traditional view of postwar Australian literature shows a scene of flourishing male writers, with women confined to the domestic sphere. In Nine Lives, Susan Sheridan rewrites the pages of history to foreground the women writers who contributed to this era's literary renaissance. Sheridan traces the early careers of nine Australian women writers born between 1915 and 1925, who each achieved success between the mid 1940s and the 1970s. Judith Wright and Thea Astley published quickly to resounding critical acclaim, while Gwen Harwood's frustration with chauvinistic literary editors prompted her scathing pseudonymous poetry. Fiction writers Elizabeth Jolley, Amy Witting and Jessica Anderson remained unpublished until they were middle-aged; Rosemary Dobson, Dorothy Hewett and Dorothy Auchterlonie Green started strongly as poets in the 1940s, but either reduced their output or fell silent for the next twenty years. Sheridan considers why the shape of these women's careers was so different from their male counterparts and how they managed the balancing act of marriage, family and writing. This illuminating group biography offers a fresh perspective on mid-twentieth century Australian literature and the women writers who shaped it.