‘Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over.’ 'The Yellow Wallpaper', Charlotte Perkins Gilman
On stage, a woman named Sybil Jones is making a speech. She is talking about the significance of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story 'The Yellow Wallpaper'. Behind her sits a panel of writers, facing their audience, and one writer drawing Sybil’s likeness in a contemplative daze.
The Sybil in the writer’s drawing starts to move, like the women behind Gilman’s wallpaper. She shakes. She takes the writer by the hand and leads her down into the paper, into the dark recesses of her mind, and into Australia’s past. Into the real and imagined lives of Australia’s women writers. Drawing Sybylla is novel about the challenges women writers have faced in pursuing the writing life.
‘This is a work that wears its significant research very lightly and provides the reader with a tremendously original and imaginative set of pictures about the ideas of creativity and using language to make stories, over and again.’ The 2016 Dorothy Hewett Award judges’ report
Winner - 2016 Dorothy Hewett Award
Praise for Drawing Sybylla:
Drawing Sybylla won last year’s Dorothy Hewett Award for an unpublished manuscript. The novel works cumulatively, growing richer as it opens up, every new story adding a layer, and each made interesting, too, by the writer using the form popular in her era: poetry in the 20s, short stories in the 30s, experimental writing in the 70s.
LOUISE SWINN, THE AUSTRALIAN
A wonderfully unusual book.
FIONA WRIGHT, AUSTRALIAN BOOK REVIEW