Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 325: Australian writers, 1975–2000
Thomson Gale, $330 hb, 386 pp
This volume is the fourth and last dealing with Australian writing in this American series of reference books. All four volumes have been edited by Selina Samuels; the editor and contributors are Australian. Fifty-seven writers who produced their first major work after 1975 are included.
What is literary biography? According to the DLB advisory board, it is ‘career biographies, tracing the development of the author’s canon and the evolution of his reputation’. This definition is only adhered to marginally in this volume, as it has been in all the Australian volumes. Some entries demonstrate the influence of the life on the work. Others interweave biographical details throughout the text. A third group scatters brief biographical data, as if the author is making a gesture only to the concept of literary biography. The latter approach reaches its nadir in Margaret Bradstock’s entry on the poet Judith Beveridge, where the commonplace follows the commonplace, all signifying nothing. The banalities of our lives are forever with us, but it is simply otiose to put them into print.