The first biography of Gwen Harwood (1920–1995), one of Australia’s most significant and distinctive poets.
Harwood is renowned for her brilliance, but loved for her humour, rebellion and mischief. A public figure by the end of her life, she was always deeply protective of her privacy, and even now, some twenty-six years after her death, little is known of the experiences that gave rise to her extraordinary poems. This book follows Harwood from her childhood in 1920s Brisbane to her final years in Hobart in the 1990s. It traces how a lively, sardonic and determined young woman built a career in the conservative 1950s, blasting her way into the patriarchal strongholds of Australian poetry.
Harwood refused to be bound by convention, ‘liberating’ herself, to use her word, before women’s lib existed. Yet she also struggled for much of her life to combine marriage and motherhood with her creative ambitions. In this sense, she is a twentieth-century everywoman. She is also a unique and powerful presence in Australian literary history, a poet who challenged orthodoxies and spoke in a remarkable range of voices.
This illuminating, moving biography reveals a deeply passionate figure both at odds with her time and deeply of it, and reclaims and celebrates this important Australian writer.