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Susan Sheridan

Susan Sheridan

Susan Sheridan FAHA is Emeritus Professor in the School of Humanities at Flinders University in Adelaide. Her latest book is The Fiction of Thea Astley (2016). Earlier books include: Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making Their Mark (2011), Christina Stead (1988), Along the Faultlines: Sex, Race and Nation in Australian Women’s Writing 1880s to 1930s (1995), and Who Was That Woman? The Australian Women’s Weekly in the Postwar Years (2002); as editor, Grafts: Feminist Cultural Criticism (1988), Debutante Nation: Feminism Contests the 1890s (1993) with Sue Rowley and Susan Magarey, and Thea Astley’s Fictional Worlds (2006), with Paul Genoni.

Susan Sheridan reviews ‘A Secretive Century: Monte Punshon’s Australia’ by Tessa Morris-Suzuki

July 2024, no. 466 21 June 2024
In 1888, Melbourne hosted a grand Centennial International Exhibition to mark a century of British occupation of the continent. There, a six-year-old girl called Ethel Punshon was excited to see that she had won a prize of two guineas for her needle-work – an embroidered red felt newspaper holder. Almost one hundred years later, as Brisbane prepared to mark the bicentennial with a modern ‘Expo ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan review ‘The End of the Morning’ by Charmian Clift

May 2024, no. 464 22 April 2024
Charmian Clift was a novelist, travel writer, and essayist who, with her writer husband George Johnston, lived with their young family on the Greek island of Hydra from 1955 to 1964. One member of the artist community who gathered around them there, the young Leonard Cohen, described them as having ‘a larger-than-life, a mythical quality’. That mythical quality was matched by real-life fame wh ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan review ‘Slipstream: On memory and migration’ by Catherine Cole

March 2024, no. 462 23 February 2024
Slipstream is both a memoir and an essay on migration. It hangs upon the story of one family, who migrated from Yorkshire (where this book was published) to Sydney in 1949. The narrator was their first-born in the new land and, as she tells it, her life has been one of constant oscillation, both emotional and physical, between England and Australia. It is a tale of her parents’ ‘exile’ and h ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'The Dressmaker’s Daughter' by Kate Llewellyn

April 2008, no. 300 01 April 2008
This memoir moves through points of intensity in Kate Llewellyn’s life, from an idyllic childhood at Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsula in the 1940s through to her leaving Adelaide to make a new life in Sydney in the 1980s. By this time she is a recognised poet, but her life is in turmoil. The book does not set out to tell a success story; rather, it describes that uneven movement from childhood in ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Her Sunburnt Country: The extraordinary literary life of Dorothea Mackellar' by Deborah Fitzgerald

November 2023, no. 459 26 October 2023
Anyone who is old enough, and had their primary schooling in Australia, would know by heart the lines I love a sunburnt country,A land of sweeping plains,Of ragged mountain ranges,Of droughts and flooding rains from the poem ‘My Country’, by Dorothea Mackellar. At a time of climate crisis, when the inhabitants of that country are more apprehensive than ever about sunburn, droughts, and f ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'The Anthology of Colonial Australian Romance Fiction' edited by Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver

May 2010, no. 321 01 May 2010
The dreamy-eyed young girl from Peter Weir’s film Picnic at Hanging Rock, whose image adorns the cover of this anthology, gives a misleading impression of the ‘Australian girl’ who features in most of the stories. This girl may be the central figure in the colonial romance genre, as the editors propose, but she is characterised by energy and independence, rather than by the kind of sexually ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'She and Her Pretty Friend' by Danielle Scrimshaw

July 2023, no. 455 28 June 2023
She and Her Pretty Friend is a collation of stories about lesbians in Australian history, ranging from the convict women of the ‘flash mob’ in Hobart’s Cascades prison to the lesbian separatists of the 1983 Pine Gap Peace Camp. Along the way, the reader meets a couple who farmed together in the 1840s, another couple who taught swimming and started the first women-only gym in Melbourne in 187 ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Middlebrow Modernism: Eleanor Dark’s interwar fiction' by Melinda J. Cooper

March 2023, no. 451 23 February 2023
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in Eleanor Dark (1901–85), which singles her out from the group of women who dominated the Australian literary scene in the 1930s and 1940s, and attends to the literary significance as well as the political and historical contexts of her work. While Miles Franklin and Katharine Susannah Prichard have been the subject of massive biographies, ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'An Illustrated History of Dairies' by joanne burns

February 2008, no. 298 01 February 2008
joanne burns: There’s a name to conjure with. The familiar lowercase signature – first encountered in my now-tattered copies of 1970s women’s poetry magazines such as Khasmik and Cauldron, and in the anthologies Mother, I’m Rooted (1975) and No Regrets (1979) – now appears on burns’s fourteenth book. An Illustrated History of Dairies offers a generous selection of her verse and prose p ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Hard Joy: Life and writing' by Susan Varga

July 2022, no. 444 25 June 2022
When Susan Varga made the momentous, long-delayed decision to commit herself to writing, her first task was to write her mother’s story – that of a Holocaust survivor who migrated from Hungary to Australia with her second husband and two daughters in 1948, when Susan was five. That story, which is also one of a complex and difficult relationship between mother and daughter, became the award-wi ... (read more)
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