'Bobbin Up was written in 1958 during eight weeks of the coldest Sydney winter on record', recalled Dorothy Hewett in her introduction to the Virago Modern Classics reprint of her first novel in 1985. Encouraged by Frank Hardy, Hewett wrote it for the Mary Gilmore Award for fiction, to a tight deadline. After being rescued from a cupboard by one of the judges, it won second prize. Published by the leftist Australasian Book Society in 1959, the first edition was a success and the 3,000 copies sold out quickly. But it was not available again until Seven Seas in East Berlin published an English export edition along with its German translation, Die Mädchen von Sydney, in 1965, with a print run of 10,000 copies, from which other Eastern bloc translations followed.