The World of Charmian Clift
Collins Imprint, $12.95 pb, 255pp, 0732225566
The World of Charmian Clift is a selection of the weekly columns she wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald’s women’s pages. They date from 1964, the year that she, George Johnston, and their children returned from Greece, up to her tragic suicide in 1969. Clift herself selected most of the essays for the book, which was first published posthumously in 1970, not long before George Johnston’s death from tuberculosis.
Garry Kinnane’s biography of Johnston (1986) has described how desperate and despairing Clift was in those years, and what stress she underwent to write the weekly column. Yet she loved it and built up an immense following among readers, probably because they appreciated the same qualities in her writing that had led John Douglas Pringle, Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, to give her a free hand, while urging her to maintain a ‘good literary tone’ in the column.