Recent Australian Autobiography: A Review Essay


In the Epilogue to Wild Card: An Autobiography 1923-1958 (1990) Dorothy Hewett returns to her 'first house', the house of childhood at Lambton Downs. The home paddock is littered with unused machinery, loose roofing iron flaps up and down over the broken boards on the verandah: 'nothing left to show that once a family worked and loved and quarrelled here, planted orchards, gardens and crops, raised animals and children, grew angry, sentimental, passionate, proud and sad' (272). Ironically the erasure of Hewett's childhood home occurs adjacent to the inscription and celebration of another autobiographical presence in the area: Albert Facey, author of A Fortunate Life. In the local craft shop facsimiles of Albert Facey postcards decorated with violets and forget-me-nots are on display; Facey's house is on show on the edge of town; there are bus tours through 'Albert Facey Country'. In this Wickepin might stand as a metaphor for the landscape of recent Australian writing, where two autobiographies, A Fortunate Life and My Place, have colonised the literary landscape and captured popular imagination most powerfully.

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Published 1 October 1992 in Volume 15 No. 4. Subjects: Aboriginal literature, Aboriginal literature - Portrayal of White culture, Australian novels & novelists, Autobiographical writing, Autobiographies, Migrant literature & writers.

Cite as: Whitlock, Gillian. ‘Recent Australian Autobiography: A Review Essay.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 15, no. 4, 1992, doi: 10.20314/als.7abb6906ca.