Brenda Niall

Critic of the Month with Brenda Niall

25 May 2018

ABR: What makes a fine critic? BN: Enthusiasm, eloquence, a distinctive voice, openness to the unexpected, a well-stocked mind, wit, and humour: some or all of these gifts would make the ideal reviewer ...

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Brenda Niall reviews 'The Shepherd’s Hut' by Tim Winton

Brenda Niall
22 February 2018

There are no sheep grazing anywhere near the shepherd’s hut of Tim Winton’s new novel. A few wild goats in the desolate landscape, some broken machinery: that’s all. The narrator, fi More

Brenda Niall reviews 'Mrs Osmond' by John Banville

Brenda Niall
20 December 2017

The last page of Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady (1881) leaves its heroine, Isabel Osmond, with an ambiguous choice. To go back into the cage of her wretched marriage might be More

Brenda Niall reviews 'A Life of My Own' by Claire Tomalin

Brenda Niall
19 December 2017

When a biographer tells her own story, the rules change. Because the subject is the self, the problem is not so much a search for the unknown, but what to tell about the known and how to t More

2017 Books of the Year

Australian Book Review
24 November 2017

To celebrate the best books of 2017 Australian Book Review invited nearly forty contributors to nominate their favourite titles. Contributors include Michelle de Kretser, Susan Wy More

Brenda Niall reviews 'Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a lady novelist' by Anne Boyd Rioux

Brenda Niall
22 August 2016

If Constance Fenimore Woolson is remembered today, it is likely to be as a friend of Henry James, and a minor character in his much-chronicled life. Anne Boyd Rioux's ...

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Books of the Year 2015

Robert Adamson et al.
23 November 2015

Jennifer Maiden's The Fox Petition: New Poems (Giramondo) conjures foxes 'whose eyes were ghosts with pity' and foxes of language that transform the world's headlines

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Simon Caterson reviews 'Mannix' by Brenda Niall

Simon Caterson
25 March 2015

With her long-awaited life of Archbishop Daniel Mannix, Brenda Niall, one of Australia’s leading biographers, has conquered a subject that for decades she regarded as compelling yet ‘intractable’. ‘As a presence (I wouldn’t claim such a remote and magisterial being as a neighbour) Daniel Mannix was part of my childhood,’ Niall recalls. She grew up in the ... More

Penelope Fitzgerald’s Secret River of Creativity

Brenda Niall
26 February 2014

Award-winning biographer Brenda Niall welcomes the first biography of Penelope Fitzgerald by superlative British biographer Hermione Lee, and is fascinated by the great novelist’s secret river of creativity.

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Brenda Niall: 'Ettie and Nettie'

Brenda Niall
29 January 2013

It is a brilliant summer day in July 1935. The scene is a house called Green Ridges, near Hastings, Sussex. Two women, seated but not relaxed, face each other across a formal drawing room. This is the first time they have met. Nettie Palmer, Australian writer and journalist, has come to stay overnight with the novelist Henry Handel Richardson.

As novelist an ... More

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