A Free Flame : Australian Women Writers and Vocation in the Twentieth Century
HIGHLY COMMENDED IN THE 2016 DOROTHY HEWETT AWARD FOR AN UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT `I need to be a writer,' Ruth Park told her future husband, D'Arcy Niland, on the eve of their marriage.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.