John Harwood on Gwen Harwood and the perils of reticence

Notes of a son and literary executor
The ABR Podcast 16 June 2022

John Harwood on Gwen Harwood and the perils of reticence

Notes of a son and literary executor
The ABR Podcast 16 June 2022

John Harwood on Gwen Harwood


Ann-Marie Priest’s My Tongue Is My Own, published by La Trobe University Press and reviewed in our June issue, is the first authorised biography of the Australian poet Gwen Harwood (1920–1995). Unsurprisingly, this was not the first attempt to record the life of one of Australia’s most loved and admired poets. In an exclusive feature for ABR, John Harwood reflects on the conflicting motives behind his literary executorship of his mother’s estate – an estate holding the secrets to an at-times fractious marriage between two opposing temperaments.

It’s a candid, fascinating addition to the vast literature surrounding Ian Hamilton’s Keepers of the Flame (1992) and the knotty ethics of literary biography.

John Harwood has written poetry, fiction, biography, environmental journalism, literary criticism, and satire. His novels The Ghost Writer (2004), The Séance (2008), and The Asylum (2012) have been translated into several languages and won several awards. 

This commentary is generously supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

Subscribe via iTunesGoogle, or Spotify, or your favourite podcast app.

From the New Issue

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.