In the time before festivals, writers used to attend congresses to perform their role as ‘the unacknowledged legislators of the world’ in Shelley’s fine phrase. A who’s who of literary leftists and liberals gathered in Paris for the First International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture in 1935, in solidarity against the rise of fascism across Europe. Nettie Palmer was a member of the Australian delegation. She was pleased to spend time there with her younger compatriot Christina Stead, who was living in London. Both writers were internationalists, but at different points on a spectrum.