Hilary McPhee

'A curious night at the Wheeler Centre' by Judith Armstrong

Judith Armstrong
Friday, 24 July 2020

The Wheeler Centre recently hosted ‘four provocative nights’ based on the assertion that Australian criticism of film, theatre, books and the visual arts is, in its own words, ‘failing us all’. The series was entitled ‘Critical Failure’. For ABR readers unable to attend, here is one person’s account of the books-related panel.

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Eric Rolls begins his Celebration of the Senses with an image of his wife’s left buttock shining through a split in an old blue sheet ‘like an early morning moon’. He ends the book with the smells of his semen and her cunt as the warm sheet is lifted and the day begins. He shares his delight in his partner (‘I will not name her. A name both exposes and confines her’) as he shares all the sensual pleasures that give him his being and inform his work.

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In the spring of 2003, a person from Hilary McPhee’s past got in touch with her. McPhee did not remember the woman’s name but recognised her immediately when they met for coffee. At high school they had played hockey together for a team called the Colac Battlers. The woman had been working for years as a personal assistant at a palace in Jordan ...

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Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Other People’s Words' by Hilary McPhee

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Friday, 06 September 2019

‘The characters which survive,’ wrote Hilary McPhee at seventeen in the copy of Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native that she studied in her tiny matriculation class at Colac High in 1958, ‘are those who make some compromise with their surroundings ...

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Hilary McPhee reviews 'Eat First, Talk Later' by Beth Yahp

Hilary McPhee
Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Beth Yahp's beautifully crafted memoir of her ancestors, her parents, and herself is shaped around journeys criss-crossing the Malay Peninsula where her Siamese-speaking Eurasian mother and her Hakka Chinese father met and married in 1961. A photograph seems to have triggered the project – perhaps the lovely sepia cover shot of her parents on their honeymoon, sitt ...

Letters to the Editor - October 2015

Monday, 28 September 2015


Dear Editor,

Shannon Burns’s splendid ABR Patrons’ Fellowship essay, ‘The Scientist of His Own Experience: A Profile of Gerard Murnane, is rich in insights and pithy observations, plus some rather fine photographs (August ...

'A Sense of Place' by Hilary McPhee

Hilary McPhee
Thursday, 01 May 1986

Books flow steadily from the northern to the southern hemisphere through the traditional conduits of empire. To get them to flow back the other way is difficult but it can be done. The real task though, it seems to me, is to overhaul the plumbing so that writing and writers can flourish, and that’s a long haul.

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