Mid-century women writers

Mid-century women writers re-considers Australian women writing after the cataclysm of World War II, from within post-war culture; women demonstrating the agency of writing fiction before the formal politicisation of feminism. This issue assembles essays on numerous of these writers, presented in their shared historical context and through the rubrics and perspectives of the present. The issue includes essays on Eleanor Dark, Eve Langley, Jessica Anderson, Christina Stead, Dorothy Hewett, Thea Astley and Elizabeth Harrower. Some of the essays deal with the late works of established writers, such as Helen O’Reilly’s discussion of Eleanor Dark’s last published work, Lantana Lane and Elizabeth Treep’s analysis of Eve Langley’s unpublished novel Bancroft House, while Karen Lamb’s essay on Thea Astley provides a keen appreciation of a new woman writer dealing with the criticism of her peers.

The essays range from readings of individual works to broader assessments of writer’s oeuvre, and from historical fiction to novels depicting the radical changes in Australian life from the 1960’s. There are also two review-essays on new studies of Elizabeth Jolley and Shirley Hazzard. This line-up constitutes a very significant volume on a group of writers often overlooked in the various categorisations of Australian literature.

The issue also contains a wealth of new creative work in fiction and poetry from prestigious authors and poets alongside emerging writers, and a fascinating account of a large-scale performance art event in western Sydney.



Felicity Plunkett, Southerly salutes Rosemary Dobson


Jennifer Maiden, George Jeffreys 13: George Jeffreys, Woke Up in Beijing
Jill Jones, Golden Scree, Music and Weather
Julie Chevalier, cloves remind me of siblings
Susan Adams, Newtown Dawn, Hawkesbury Dusk
R. D. Wood, In the Desert
Sebastian Gurciollo, In the clouds
Peter Minter, The Roadside Bramble
Didier Coste, Anonymous of Troy
Margaret Bradstock, Rose Bay Airport, 1944, Standing Soldiers
Andrew Taylor, Holiday snap, Impossible preludes
Geoff Page, Hardware
Bev Braune, swimming
Simon McNamee, by the periphrastic walkway
B. R. Dionysius, Ghouls
π.Ο., Paulette De Giré, Street Encounter


Fiona Morrison, Leaving the Party: Dorothy Hewett, literary politics and the long 1960s
Karen Lamb, “Yrs Patrick”: Thea Astley’s brush with timely advice on “the rackety career of novel writing”
Helen O’Reilly, “Dazzling” Dark – Lantana Lane (1959)
Susan Sheridan, “Cranford at Moreton Bay”: Jessica Anderson’s The Commandant
Damien Barlow, The Queerness of Jessica Anderson’s Fiction
Michael Ackland, “I am thinking I am free”: Intransigent reality versus utopian thought in the later fiction of Christina Stead
Elizabeth (Lucy) Treep, “Gold leaf and tinsel”: Theatricality and Performativity in Eve Langley’s “Bancroft House”
Naomi Riddle, Turning Inward on Himself: Male hysteria in Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower


Ed Scheer, “Non-places for non people”: Social sculpture in Minto


Helen Verity Hewitt, Sugarloaf
David Cohen, Through a Cupboard, Darkly
A. S. Patric, Boys
Jennifer Livett, Prologue – A Fool in the Island


John Kinsella on David Brooks, The Sons of Clovis: Ern Malley, Adoré Floupette and a secret history of Australian poetry
Pam Brown on Kate Lilley, Ladylike
Kate Livett on Brigitta Olubas, Shirley Hazzard: Literary Expatriate and Cosmopolitan Humanist
Nicolette Stasko on John Mateer, Southern Barbarians and Joanne Burns, Amphora
David Brooks on Susan Swingler, The House of Fiction: Leonard, Susan and Elizabeth Jolley
Lisa Fletcher on Mette Jakobsen, The Vanishing Act
Selina Samuels on Jess Huon, The Dark Wet and Julie Chevalier, Permission to Lie
Elizabeth Webby on Alex Calder, The Settler’s Plot : How Stories Take Place in New Zealand
David Musgrave on Lehmann and Gray (eds) Australian Poetry Since 1788



Susan Adams, The Donation
Didier Coste, Anonymous of troy


Nicola Themistes, Hierology


Michelle Borzi on Peter Steele, The Gossip and the Wine and Dan Disney, and then when the
Joseph Cummins on Alex Miller, Autumn Laing
Laura Joseph on Amy T Matthews, End of the Night Girl
Emma Wortley on S. D. Gentill, Chasing Odysseus
Andrew J. Carruthers on Catherine Vidler, Furious Triangle
Heather Taylor Johnson on Bruce Dawe, Slo-Mo Tsunami and Other Poems
Sarah Holland-Batt on Claire Potter, Swallow and Cameron Lowe, Porch Music
Corey Wakeling on Thirty Australian Poets edited by Felicity Plunkett
Sam Moginie on Ken Bolton, Sly Mongoose

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