Category Archives: Feminist Literature

International Women’s Day Inspiration

Today is International Women’s Day and I’ve been inspired by Whispering Gums to think of texts by women which have inspired me.  I’m busy today, running off to a Ballarat Writers event, which for the last year has had a committee of only women (this AGM we managed to get one male committee member) so my list will be brief.

Kate Jennings: I’ve written about Kate Jennings before. I found her collection of poetry Come to me my Melancholy Baby, when I was about 15 and just learning about poetry. The literature texts at school were very male focused, Shakespeare, Wordsworth etc and David Malouf novels for the Australian component. So when I came across her poetry, punchy, raw, emotive – full of sex, swearing and brutal Australian-ness I loved it. I’ve since collected all of her works.

Judith Wright I fell in love with Judith Wright’s poetry and again used it to balance the male poetry that I was fed at school. I had a great literature teacher who would include non-curriculum texts into the mix for us. I’m pregnant now, and occasionally get lines of Woman to Man floating through my head.

Jean Sasson I was given Princess and Daughters of Arabia to read from my mother when I was about 15. I passed these onto my friends and they stirred many discussions. While we still giggled on sleepovers about boys we also discussed arranged marriage, female circumcision and a whole range of issues we would never have learned about growing up in rural Australia.

Rosa Praed I wrote my thesis on the works of Rosa Praed, which look at whole range of female issues in early Australian life. But it was her life which fascinated me the most. In short; a female Australian author who wrote 23 books published from 1880 to 1916 – we should hear more about her.

Mary Wollstonecraft: I first encountered the Marys – Wollstonecraft and Shelley at University. I’ve recently spent some time studying The Vindication of the Rights of Woman for work in my novel. It’s such a magnificent work and one that I find myself yelling ‘yes’ to out loud, despite the fact that I’m a gen Y and this was written in 1792 – goes to show that sometimes generational change doesn’t exist.

 

The Female Eunuch – 40 years later

2010 was the 40th anniversary of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch. I decided to use the occasion to re-read the book and write a post about my thoughts. That was in November. The problem is that when I had finished I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. In conjunction with the The Female Eunuch I also read An Untamed Shrew, Greer’s unauthorised biography written by Christine Wallace. And of course at the start of the year I read that Louis Nowra piece in The Monthly.

I’ve been perplexed about which approach to take when writing the piece. An encompassing history of what the book means to Australian women? An historical perspective? The book’s flaws? All of these approaches felt too wide, so I have decided to write about my own relationship with the book. Continue reading The Female Eunuch – 40 years later

Kristel Thornell – Night Street

Kristel Thornell's Night Street Kristel Thornell’s Night Street is a fictitious imagining of the life of tonalist painter Clarice Beckett. Released this year after winning the 2009 Australian/Vogel award the novel is commonly viewed as being more biographical than fictional. Clarice Beckett was a young tonalist artist who studied under Frederick McCubbin then under Max Meldrum. Beckett’s works are now widely lauded and can be seen in collections in the National Gallery, various state galleries, and regional galleries such as Castlemaine and Ballarat. However Thornell is clear to point out in the Author’s note in the conclusion of the novel, “The Clarice who appears in this work is not Clarice Beckett (1887-1935) but my imagining of her. While the historical figure’s art and life inspired me, I took many creative liberties with these.”

I was eager to read this novel for a few reasons. I am a fan of Beckett’s work, after learning about the tonalist movement via the family history of my partner, who is related to Percy Leason, tonalist and political satirist. Another reason I was interested in reading this novel was because I am working on a novel where the protagonist is a female artist, albeit 70 years earlier, based in Melbourne. Continue reading Kristel Thornell – Night Street