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Dorothy Hewett

Dorothy Hewett HLA


Dorothy Hewett was born in 1923, in Perth, Western Australia and grew up on an isolated wheat farm in Wickepin. In the late 1930s her family returned to Perth where Hewett attended Perth Ladies College. She started an arts degree at the University of Western Australia in 1941 where she began publishing poetry and journalism and joined the Communist Party of Australia. Abandoning her formal studies, she threw herself into a committed activist life. Hewett’s first novel, BOBBIN UP, was published by the Australasian Book Society in 1959 and subsequently reissued in a number of European languages by Seven Seas Books, Berlin. The English feminist publishers, Virago Books, republished BOBBIN UP in the 1980s as part of their Modern Classics list. Virago also commissioned and published Hewett’s acclaimed autobiography, WILD CARD (1990), in which she surveyed this period of her life. Hewett returned to Perth and the University of Western Australia in 1960. She published two books of poetry, WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE? (with her husband Merv Lilley, 1961) and WINDMILL COUNTRY (1968) and strongly established her career as a stylistically unpredictable and experimental playwright with THIS OLD MAN COMES ROLLING HOME (1967), MRS PORTER AND THE ANGEL, THE CHAPEL PERILOUS (1971) and BON-BONS and ROSES FOR DOLLY (1972). In 1974, after being awarded a three year writer’s grant, Hewett gave up her job at UWA and moved her family to Sydney to become a full time writer. From then on Hewett wrote and published prolifically across genres, producing another thirteen plays, including THE MAN FROM MUCKINUPIN (1979), SUSANNAH’S DREAMING : THE GOLDEN OLDIES (1982) and NOWHERE (2001); two novels, THE TOUCHER (1993) and NEAP TIDE  (1999); a collection of short stories, BAKER’S DOZEN; a libretto, CHRISTINA’S WORLD (music by Ross Edwards); and five books of poetry, RAPUNZEL IN SUBURBIA (1975),GREENHOUSE (1979), ALICE IN WORMLAND (1987), PENINSULA (1994), andHALFWAY UP THE MOUNTAIN (2001). UWA Press has published Hewett’s SELECTED POEMS (2010), edited by her daughter Kate Lilley, and SELECTED PROSE (2011), edited by Fiona Morrison. Hewett was awarded an Emeritus Fellowship from the Australia Council and a DLitt from UWA. She died in 2002 and is buried in Springwood Cemetery.

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