‘Alien of exceptional ability’

Recalling Hazel Rowley ten years after her death
by
August 2021, no. 434
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Life as Art: The biographical writing of Hazel Rowley by Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan

Miegunyah Press, $34.99 pb, 255 pp

‘Alien of exceptional ability’

Recalling Hazel Rowley ten years after her death
by
August 2021, no. 434
Hazel Rowley (image supplied)
Hazel Rowley (image supplied)

The biographer Hazel Rowley enjoyed the fact that her green card – permitting her to work in America – classified her as an ‘Alien of exceptional ability’. This is close to perfect: her own biography in a few words. If not exactly an alien, she was usefully and often shrewdly awry in a variety of situations: in the academic world of the 1990s, in tense Parisian literary circles, and in the fraught environment of American race relations. It helped that she was Australian, and a relative outsider. The people she sought information from were less likely to categorise her and more inclined to talk. Her books – the major biographies of Christina Stead (1993) and Richard Wright (2001), Tête-à-tête: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (2005), and Franklin and Eleanor: An extraordinary marriage (2010) – are certainly evidence of exceptional ability, as well as obsession and tenacity.

Brenda Walker reviews 'Life as Art: The biographical writing of Hazel Rowley' edited by Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan

Life as Art: The biographical writing of Hazel Rowley

by Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan

Miegunyah Press, $34.99 pb, 255 pp

Buy this book

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