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Delys Bird

Delys Bird

Delys Bird is a Senior Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Humanities at the University of Western Australia. She recently retired as the co-editor of Westerly. Her publications include a co-edited book of essays on Elizabeth Jolley’s fiction, Elizabeth Jolley: New Critical Essays and a critical edition of nine of Jolley’s radio plays, Off the Air: Elizabeth Jolley’s Radio Plays. She has published widely on Australian women’s writing.

Delys Bird reviews 'Doing Life: A biography of Elizabeth Jolley' by Brian Dibble

October 2008, no. 305 01 October 2008
In the opening pages of an early manuscript, ‘A Feast of Life’, Elizabeth Jolley ponders the question of whether a novel should have a message. She has no answer, but will write out of her ‘experiences and feelings’. If her writing does help anyone, then ‘let a message be found’, so that she might ‘feel that I am at least doing something in a wider sphere than the domestic routine wi ... (read more)

Delys Bird reviews 'In the Winter Dark' by Tim Winton

July 1988, no. 102 01 July 1988
Place and the specifics of place are supremely significant in Tim Winton’s writing. It has established the South-west corner of Western Australia as its region, and the elements of that area, sea, sky, and forest, recur in his stories, images of an ultimate if unknowable meaning in the world. The people of Winton’s fiction live outside cities, immersed in their natural environment, from which ... (read more)

Delys Bird reviews 'Wake in Fright' by Kenneth Cook, 'All that False Instruction' by Kerryn Higgs, 'In the Shadows' by Margaret Scott, and 'Collected Stories' by Janette Turner Hospital

November 2001, no. 236 01 November 2001
These four titles are reissues of well-known texts, or of the work of well-known writers, from four different publishers. A good sign perhaps, very welcome at a time when publishing seems ever more ephemeral and when many works, even from the recent past, are unavailable. ... (read more)

Delys Bird reviews 'Not Being Miriam' by Marion Campbell

December 1988, no. 107 01 December 1988
Three sections at the beginning of Marion Campbell’s second novel, Not Being Miriam, initiate its preoccupations and problems. They relate incidents from the childhood of Bess Valentine, its major character. In the first and shortest, Bess creates a transforming ritual, a childish game with significant narrative implications. Bess strips herself and Sean, paints their bodies with clay, the child ... (read more)

Delys Bird reviews four reissued Australian novels

December 2002-January 2003, no. 247 01 December 2002
This is a particularly interesting group of reissued ‘classics’, spanning just over fifty years in twentieth-century Australian literature. Although they have very different fictional styles, all are realist or social realist novels, and their politics and preoccupations are not dissimilar. Each is concerned with working people’s lives, differing contrasts between city and country life, and ... (read more)

Delys Bird reviews 'Australian Women: New feminist perspectives' edited by Norma Grieve and Ailsa Burns

September 1986, no. 84 01 September 1984
Some years ago, when I was able for the first time to lecture on the position of women in Australian society within an Australian Studies undergraduate course (in a section headed ‘Minorities’), the available material on the topic, apart from occasional brief throwaway references in the standard works, was minimal. Recognition that this gap existed – in academic courses, in the knowledge str ... (read more)

Delys Bird reviews 'The Force of the Feminine' edited by Margaret Ann Franklin

October 1986, no. 85 08 October 1986
A phrase like ‘And God so loved the world, she …’ has a radical impact on that most deeply ingrained convention; the contract underlying and validating much of Western culture that the logos is masculine and the power behind the logos is designated, generically, as ‘he’. Our culture is patriarchal; patriarchal power derives from God and that power is symbolically inscribed in language. ... (read more)

Delys Bird reviews 'Larrikin Angel: A biography of Veronica Brady' by Kath Jordan

June 2009, no. 312 01 June 2009
The question of the relationship of the biographer to their subject is a fascinating one. Kath Jordan is frank about her long and intimate friendship with Veronica Brady as she recounts the way this book came into being. In a preface, she remembers celebrating with a friend the High Court’s rejection of Western Australia’s challenge to its Mabo native title decision, in March 1995. Thinking of ... (read more)

Delys Bird reviews 'The House in the Light' by Beverley Farmer

May 1995, no. 170 01 May 1995
Beverley Farmer is one of a group of women writers celebrated in Gillian Whitlock’s collection of excerpts from their work, Eight Voices of the Eighties. Its introduction begins with a remark attributed to Elizabeth Jolley where she calls the 1980s in Australia ‘a moment of glory for the woman writer’. Beverley Farmer’s first novel, Alone, was published in 1980, at the beginning of this pe ... (read more)

Delys Bird reviews 'Like Nothing on this Earth: A literary history of the wheatbelt' by Tony Hughes-d’Aeth

June-July 2017, no. 392 29 May 2017
In his Epilogue to this major study of the West Australian wheatbelt and its writers, Tony Hughes-d’Aeth describes his work. With no ‘exact precedent’ in Australian scholarship, it is ‘best thought of as an amalgam of literary history, literary sociology and literary geography’. To achieve this, Hughes-d’Aeth traces the idea of the wheatbelt through intensive readings of the work of el ... (read more)
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