Brenda Niall reviews 'Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a lady novelist' by Anne Boyd Rioux

Brenda Niall reviews 'Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a lady novelist' by Anne Boyd Rioux

Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a lady novelist

by Anne Boyd Rioux

W.W. Norton & Company Inc. (Wiley) $46.95 hb, 416 pp, 9780393245097

If Constance Fenimore Woolson is remembered today, it is likely to be as a friend of Henry James, and a minor character in his much-chronicled life. Anne Boyd Rioux's biography is a reminder that Woolson was a serious and talented professional writer, with ambitions and achievements that have nothing to do with James.

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Brenda Niall

Brenda Niall

Brenda Niall’s writing career began during her time as an academic at Monash University, where she was Reader in the Department of English. Since 1995 she has been writing full time. Her books include award-winning biographies Martin Boyd: A Life (1988), Georgiana (1995), The Boyds (2002), Judy Cassab (2005), and a memoir, Life Class (2007). Her book The Riddle of Father Hackett was shortlisted for the 2010 Magarey Medal for Biography. She is a frequent reviewer for The Age and ABR, and has been a guest at the Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Byron Bay literary festivals. In 2004 she was awarded an AO for services to Australian Literature. Her latest book is Can You Hear the Sea? My grandmother's story (Text Publishing, 2018).