Shortlisted for the 2020 National Biography Award
Shortlisted for the 2020 Queensland Literary Awards People's Choice Award
Shortlisted for the 2020 Queensland Premier's Award for a work of State Significance
Hearing Maud is a work of creative non-fiction that details the author’s experiences of deafness after losing most of her hearing at age four. It charts how, as she grew up, she was estranged from people and turned to reading and writing for solace, eventually establishing a career as a writer.
Central to her narrative is the story of Maud Praed, the deaf daughter of 19th century Queensland expatriate novelist Rosa Praed. Although Maud was deaf from infancy, she was educated at a school which taught her to speak rather than sign, a mode difficult for someone with little hearing. The breakup of Maud’s family destabilised her mental health and at age twenty-eight she was admitted to an asylum, where she stayed until she died almost forty years later. It was through uncovering Maud’s story that the author began to understand her own experiences of deafness and how they contributed to her emotional landscape, relationships and career.
Praise for Hearing Maud
This is an extraordinary and poignant memoir written in an embodied and attentive style. White offers us glimpses of global deaf history woven with the tapestry of her own life/story and accentuated with the lives of Rosa and Maud Praed. Hearing Maud is a literary seduction about literary seductions.
Brenda Jo Brueggemann
Lend MeYour Ear and Deaf Subjects
In her three-part soliloquy on her search for belonging, understanding and love, Jessica White achieves an extraordinarily accomplished fusion of personal memoir, biography and deaf studies. White’s searching ruminations about the implications of her lifelong deafness together with her scholarly research of Maud Praed – the deaf daughter of nineteenth- century Queensland expatriate novelist Rosa Praed – and dive into deaf studies resound with tension, drama and insight without yielding to sentiment or polemic. By navigating Maud’s heartbreaking story of being deaf in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,White locates her own personal Australian experiences of growing up deaf within the panorama of deaf history. In doing so, she not only arrives at an enriched understanding of her deaf self, but also provides a uniquely Australian contribution to the literature of, about and by deaf people.
The Art of Being Deaf: A Memoir and Jack’s Story
In Hearing Maud Jessica White fulfils, with grace, elegance and a fierce regard for truth-telling, writing’s primary task: to tell it as it is; but as no one has ever told it before. This is a book of wonder. It gives voice to silence.
Battarbee and Namatjira and Isinglass