Review of Ink in Her Veins: The Troubled Life of Aileen Palmer, by Sylvia Martin

Ink in Her Veins is the first book-length biography of Aileen Palmer poet, socialist and daughter to Australia’s most renowned literary couple, Nettie and Vance Palmer. Sylvia Martin has written a precise, penetrating but humane account of Palmer’s life. She has carefully gathered and drawn on evidence for her claims, speculating in a reasoned way when sources are scant. She has fulfilled the biographer’s brief. Beyond this, the book asks big questions about the biographical endeavour, principally whether a life lived around the margins – albeit the margins of cultural, intellectual and political centres – is a life worth telling.

At first blush, it is hard to imagine this book without Nettie and Vance’s profile, a faintly tragic situation that underscores, arguably furthers, the calamitous aspects of Aileen’s life. And yet as the pages roll, one understands what Martin must have early on. Aileen’s contingency, her marginality, even what might…

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Published 19 December 2019 in Volume 34 No. 2. Subjects: Biography, Aileen Palmer.

Cite as: Arnott, Georgina . ‘Review of Ink in Her Veins: The Troubled Life of Aileen Palmer, by Sylvia Martin.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 34, no. 2, 2019, doi: 10.20314/als.6290bec1ba.