Stella #2: Miles’ trips to the dentists

Miles Franklin evidently had very bad teeth. Trips to the dentist punctuate her biography. Perhaps I’ve reached the final one, though, because – now in her early forties – she’s just had all the teeth taken out and received false teeth. (The horror of having all of one’s teeth pulled filled me up, reading that last night before bed.)

The question for the biographer: how much to tell about trips to the dentists? In Miles’ case, the biographer is working off extensive, daily diaries, and I’m sure they are full of Miles’ dental agony, of which we are only fed the smallest amount. I wonder, though, if it falls in the category of worth mentioning early on, along with a brief sketch of dental conditions in Federation Australia (and why teeth might be such an obsession), and then not mentioning again until she gets them pulled out?

It is part of the dilemma of conveying a sense of someone’s life – what’s the balance between the everyday and the dramatic?


About Nathan Hobby

At work on a biography of Katharine Susannah Prichard for a PhD at the University of Western Australia. Also a novelist and librarian. View all posts by Nathan Hobby

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