Elizabeth Harrower's final novel

In her 2013 interview with Ramona Koval, the octogenarian Elizabeth Harrower expressed an unreserved confidence that her novels ‘deserved to be found and … would be found’ by future generations of readers. There is no doubt that Harrower’s fiction deserves to be known, but without the initiative of Text Publishing these works may well have slid into obscurity. To date Text Classics have republished three of Harrower’s novels: Down in the City (1957), The Long Prospect (1958), and The Watch Tower (1966). Now comes the release of a previously unpublished manuscript, Harrower’s fifth and final novel, In Certain Circles.

This publication will be of great interest to readers and scholars of Harrower’s work. Repeatedly it has been noted that, after The Watch Tower, Harrower published some short fiction and for some unstated reason simply stopped writing. In fact, she wrote In Certain Circles in the late 1960s and submitted it to Macmillan, only to withdraw it from publication in 1971. As she explained to Helen Trinca, she wrote the book under pressure, as a means to obtain an Australia Council grant, and she was disappointed with it: ‘Macmillan accepted it. It was well written because once you can write, you can write a good book. But there are a lot of dead novels out in the world that don’t need to be written’. In Certain Circles is not one of them.

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Published in May 2014 no. 361

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