A happy New Year's Eve to all readers and friends out there. We are a houseful here, cussing for lack of airconditioning in a real Australian summer just now, and there will be little blogging until my son goes back to his day centre on the 16th. This is just a brief note to keep me in the groove, I'm fighting for computer time as two other family members have rediscovered 'The Sims' and my oldest is communicating with her choir via LiveJournal. Funny how blogging seems to take a lot more time when someone else is doing it...
Reading: Number9dream, hard to believe Mitchell wrote this at 33 - I'm feeling old today. (How do 33 year olds do all that stuff they do??? what was I doing in 1993 and why can't I remember? Where'd these fucking wrinkles come from and all those broken veins?)
Have recently read the diaries of Miles Franklin which were published courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales in 2004 and contain vivid little snapshots of the Australian writing scene in the thirties and forties. According to Miles, Mary Gilmore was a frightful self-promoter who claimed to have helped others extensively with their writing, including Henry Lawson.
The diaries are peppered with acerbic asides and not a few bitter reflections on Franklin's descent into loneliness, depression and quite intense frustration while nursing her ageing mother and keeping house for her brother, after a fairly exciting career overseas as a feminist organiser, journalist and activist. I remain astounded that someone whose family steadily lost money all through her life managed to fund a major prize for Australian writing on her death. She received a small stipend from the estate of US feminist Alice Henry, but according to a reference quoted here, few Australian writers made money out of books written for the local market at this time. In the forties Franklin complained to other writers that she could not afford to buy books. How then did she have all this put by? An extraordinary effort which lends poignancy to every protestation she made, dated though some of them are now, on behalf of Australian letters.
When I was nineteen my parents drove our large family through the Australian Alps, visiting the Snowy Mountain hydroelectric scheme - I was blessed with a parent who thought we should be enthused by dams, perhaps she wanted one of us to be an engineer? who knows. We stopped briefly in late afternoon at a spot called Talbingo, a place I've always remembered for its beauty. Imagine my surprise some years later when I discovered that the remains of Franklin's childhood home lay beneath the dam waters, flooded after her death. The film of her novel, My Brilliant Career, also launched the careers of two other brilliant Australian women, Judy Davis and Gillian Armstrong.