Review John Shaw Neilson by Hugh Anderson and L.J. Blake
The dearth of good, full-length biographical studies of significant Australian writers leads one to approach John Shaw Neilson, by Hugh Anderson and L. J. Blake, with certain hopes and preconceptions. One hope is to find a definitive biography; another, related to this, is to find that it compares favour ably with its predecessor. James Devaney's Shaw Neilson (Sydney, 1944) occupies a rather special place in Australian biographies. Not so much a detailed account of Neilson's life as a selective interpretation of features of his personality and art, it is distinguished by an unusual amount of sympathy for the subject, whom Devaney knew. It is a moving work, yet by its very nature, its partiality and specialization, it leaves room too for another biography, fuller and more objective.
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