Eleanor Dark: A Writer's Life
Eleanor Dark was for many years the most widely-read 'serious' novelist in Australia. She is a writer whose work lies at some central point, some pivotal place in this century. Born in 1901, she lived through, and recorded in her novels, the major events of the first half of the twentieth century: two wars, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Cold War and fear of a nuclear holocaust. She wrote about indigenous rights, environmental degradation, the changing situation of women, social justice. One of a generation of writers who had a dream of what this country and culture could be, she gives us a lens through which we can see not just the past but also the deep present. There are tracks we can follow, she says, we can know how we came to be here now.
She published ten novels, in seven countries, as well as stories, poems, articles and essays; her work was recognised by literary awards while her novels had a wide readership. The Timeless Land, a novel which weaves together a fictional story and a meticulously researched account of the first settlement of Australia, was a book of the Month Club choice in the USA, a Times Literary Supplement recommendation in the UK, and later adapted for television in Australia. She was writing at the time when a publishing industry was developing in Australia and the fact that her novel was so widely recognised, and stayed in print, helped to establish a local industry.It was a time when local writers fought for recognition, and women writers, who almost dominated the scene in the 1930s, acknowledged in their letters to one another the obstacles they had to overcome as well as celebrating each other's work.
Extracts from reviews of Eleanor Dark: a Writer's Life
"Generous, perceptive, meticulously researched…a model of what a good biography should be." Dorothy Hewett, Weekend Australian, September 1998.
"The reader quickly becomes aware that this is something special in literary biography... Social history, Dark's writing and her personality are held together by a dense weaving of themes and imagery, by modulated and varied leitmotifs." Paul Gillen, Meanjin 4/1998.