A Free Flame: Australian Women Writers and Vocation in the Twentieth Century
‘I need to be a writer,’ Ruth Park told her future husband, D’Arcy Niland, on the eve of their marriage. ‘That’s what I need from life.’
She was not the only one. At a time when women were considered incapable of being ‘real’ artists, a number of precocious girls in Australian cities were weighing their chances and laying their plans.
A Free Flame explores the lives of four such women, Gwen Harwood, Dorothy Hewett, Christina Stead and Ruth Park, each of whom went on to become a notable Australian writer.
They were very different women from very different backgrounds, but they shared a sense of urgency around their vocation – their ‘need’ to be a writer – that would not let them rest.
Weaving biography, literary criticism and cultural history, this book looks at the ways in which these women laid siege to the artist’s identity, and ultimately remade it in their own image.
Praise for A Free Flame:
Ann-Marie Priest writes with admirable clarity and a strong sense of appreciation for her subjects. A Free Flame weaves fascinating biographical details and critical insights into an examination of the various ways in which these talented artists negotiated the tension between their sense of vocation and the hindering cultural expectations they faced as women.JAMES LEY, CRITIC AND JUDGE OF THE DOROTHY HEWETT AWARD