Monthly Archives: June 2015

Katharine Susannah Prichard and My Brilliant Career: the world of a 17 year old in Federation Australia


Katharine Susannah Prichard was seventeen in 1901 when My Brilliant Career was published, the same age as the main character, Sybylla. In a radio broadcast paying tribute to Franklin in 1944, Prichard remembered, “What a sensation it created! Most of the well known writers at that time were old, and here was a girl writing with vigour and realism which amazed everybody.”  Continue reading

Angst, class and racism in Possum Gully: some notes on Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career


I’ve just finished reading Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career (1901), a novel still fresh and intriguing 114 years later. It covers a few years in the life of Sybylla, a determined young woman trying to break free of the restraints of poverty and the expectations of marriage in rural New South Wales during the drought of the 1890s . Jill Roe writes, “It was undoubtedly the literary event of 1901, the only significant Australian novel in the year of Federation; and by now it is more or less recognised that in Australia at the turn of the twentieth century, feminism and nationalism went together as radical forces.” (Stella Miles Franklin, epub edn, 133) Continue reading

Lost diaries


The great diaries of Samuel Pepys weren’t discovered until a couple of centuries after his death. He expected them to be read one day, or at least his biographer Claire Tomalin thinks so. But they could have easily not been found and never been read. Imagine the diarist carefully recording their life, assuming they’ve preserved their days, only for them to be so terribly mistaken? The actual fate of their diaries is not the cherishment of future generations, but the moth or the flame. Continue reading