Brigitta Olubas and Susan Wyndham Meet the Author

16 Jul 2024

Brigitta Olubas and Susan Wyndham will be in conversation with Julieanne Lamond on their new book Hazzard and Harrower. The Letters.

Olubas, Hazzard’s official biographer, and Wyndham, who interviewed both Hazzard and Harrower, deliver an extraordinary account of two literary luminaries, their complex relationship and their times.

Friendships exist in different dimensions and the warm bond between the two Australian writers, Hazzard and Harrower, flourished mainly in the letters they exchanged between continents for 40 years. As writers, they lived most vibrantly on the page, where they could ponder their own and one another’s words.

Shirley Hazzard and Elizabeth Harrower met in person for the first time in London in 1972, six years after they began a correspondence that would span four decades. They exchanged letters, cards and telegrams, and made occasional phone calls between Harrower’s home in Sydney and Hazzard’s apartments in New York, Naples and Capri. The two women wrote to each other of their daily lives, of impediments to writing, their reading, politics and world affairs, and in Hazzard’s case, her travels. And they wrote about Hazzard’s mother, for whose care Harrower took increasing — and increasingly reluctant — responsibility from the early 1970s (precisely the period when she herself virtually stopped writing).

‘Vital, compelling, terrifying, revelatory – and a literary pleasure in its own right.’ – Anna Funder;  ‘Beautiful, wise and unflinching. Will we ever have a chance like this again to eavesdrop on two great writers as they talk books, people and the world for forty years?’ – David Marr

Dr Brigitta Olubas is professor of English at the University of New South Wales where she teaches and researches in Australian Literature. Her publications include books and essays on Australian Literature, particularly on writing by migrant, diasporic and refugee writers, as well as her acclaimed biography Shirley Hazzard: A Writing Life. She published the first scholarly monograph on Hazzard’s writing and edited Hazzard’s essays, We Need Silence To Find Out What We Think and Collected Stories.

Susan Wyndham is a journalist and writer. As New York correspondent for The Australian newspaper and literary editor of the Sydney Morning Herald she interviewed Shirley Hazzard and Elizabeth Harrower. She is the author of Life in His Hands: The true story of a neurosurgeon and a pianist and editor of My Mother, My Father: On losing a parent.

Dr Julieanne Lamond is Associate Professor of English and Head of the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, ANU. She is co-director of the ANU Centre for Australian Literary Cultures and co-editor of the journal Australian Literary Studies.

The vote of thanks will be given by Beejay Silcox, the Artistic Director of Canberra Writers Festival, and chair of the 2024 Stella Prize.

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm and again after the event.

Additional information:

Registration is required for this event.

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podcast will be made available after the event.

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