The Shelf Life of Zora Cross, Cathy Perkins

Australian Women Writers Gen 3 Week 12-18 Jan. 2020

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Zora Cross has been one of the big surprises of AWW Gen 3 for me. I guess each generation of writers has ‘unknowns’ who prove to be tremendously interesting and Cross is one of those. This repost is from historian and blogger, Janine The Resident Judge of Port Phillip.


The Resident Judge of Port Phillip

“Twenty pounds and you shall have her” and thus were the publishing rights for Songs of Love and Life transferred from a small self-publishing bookshop to that of the publishing behemoth, Angus and Robertson in 1917.  This book of sixty erotic love-sonnets was to become a literary sensation, going through three reprints and selling a respectable 4000 copies. Its author,  27 year old Zora Cross, wrote about love and sensuality from a woman’s perspective – something shocking in 1917. Read on …

Australian Women Writers, 1930s

Australian Women Writers Gen 3 Week 12-18 Jan. 2020

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Dulcie Deamer

The title for this post is a straight steal from a post written by Whispering Gums (Sue) in 2014 (here) based on an article by Zora Cross in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1935. It is not my intention to plagiarise Sue, but rather to research the largely unknown women writers Cross lists for my Australian Women Writers Gen 3 page (here), though as it turns out, most of them are Gen 2 by age, or even Gen 1.

I was inspired to research by this line in Sue’s post:

[Daniel] Hamlyn, she says, won The Bulletin’s second novel competition, the first one having been jointly won by Katharine Susannah Prichard and M. Barnard Eldershaw.

Neither Sue nor I were able to find any other mention of Hamlyn (not by Google, the Annals of Australian Literature, nor the Oxford Companion), and I’m pretty sure (now!) that the second winner, in 1929, was Vance Palmer with The Passage. On the other hand, Zora Cross was there and should know.

Cross’s actual words are “Daniel Hamlyn, a winner in the second “Bulletin” novel competition, and a promising woman writer, is another” [of Mary Gilmore’s “discoveries”]. Who Hamlyn is will have to stay a mystery for a bit longer.

Three hours, and a few glasses of wine, later. Got it! In Trove, in a story about Vance Palmer. Second prize in 1929 went to Mrs Kay Glasson Taylor.

Final step Wikipedia. Kay Glasson Taylor’s novels “include Ginger for Pluck (published under the pseudonym “Daniel Hamline”, for young readers, 1929 … Her fiction is still read as a representation of white Australian women’s experiences of gender and race in the context of colonialism”. (Read by whom, I wonder).

Postscript. Taylor, Kay Glasson (‘David Hamline’) does get a few lines in the Oxford Companion.

The other writers Sue mentions (where I can, I list their pen names, invaluable for searching on Trove) are –

Ada Holman (1869-1949) ADB

Novelist and feminist. AKA Ada Kidgell, Marcus Malcolm, Nardoo, Myee.  “A recurring theme to her stories was tension in marriage as when a wife’s interests were suppressed or ignored, or a woman married unwillingly from economic necessity or family pressure.” Married NSW Labor politician and sometime Premier WA Holman.

Dora Wilcox (1873-1953) AustLit

Poet. NZ born and educated. A VAD (nurses’ aid) during the War.

Alice Grant Rosman (1882-1961) ADB

Published initially in Australian magazines, Bulletin, Lone Hand, Gadfly, etc. Moved to England and became a prolific and best selling author of romance fiction.

Ella McFadyen (1887-1976) People Australia

Children’s author

Vera Dwyer (1889-1967) The Australian Women’s Register, AustLit

Children’s author. Active member Fellowship of Australian Writers

Zora Cross (1890-1964) ADB

Writer of ‘sensual’ poetry, single mum, indifferent novelist, wrote about other writers.

Dulcie Deamer (1890-1972) ADB

Famous Kings Cross bohemian, actor, writer. Founding member Fellowship of Australian Writers

Nina Murdoch (1890-1976) ADB

Travel writer, reporter. Other names Madoline Brown, Manin, and as Pat founded the Argonauts on ABC radio.

Kay Glasson Taylor (1893-1998) 105! (Wiki)

AKA Daniel Hamline. Her second novel, Pick and the Duffers (1930), was called “an Australian Tom Sawyer” and was made into a movie

Helen Simpson (1897-1940) ADB

Novelist, playwright living mostly in England (married to Rolf Boldrewood’s nephew). Detective and historical fiction

Georgia Rivers (1897-1989)

Pen name of Marjorie Clark. AustLit got bolshie and wouldn’t let me see any more.

Dorothy Cottrell (1902-1957) ADB

Wheelchair-bound by polio as an infant, she and her husband were inveterate vagabonds, living in and writing about outback Australia, Dunk Island (with ‘beachcomber’ Edmund Banfield), Florida and the Carribean. Mary Gilmore wrote, “Mrs. Cottrell writes Australia as it has never been written before.”

Jessie Urquhart ()

Nothing published under that name in the years 1925-1945

see also:
Whispering Gums, 1930s, moving beyond “gumleaf” and “goanna” (here)
Whispering Gums, The novel in Australia, 1927-style, Part 1 (here)
Whispering Gums, The novel in Australia, 1927-style, Part 2 (here)