Introduction. (Focus on Eleanor Dark)
Ferrier, Carole, Hecate
Eleanor Dark (1901-85) was born a hundred years ago on 24 August, and this special focus commemorates that anniversary. It comprises two pieces of Dark's unpublished writing including a section from one of her last novels; a commentary upon Dark's figuring of the urban space of Sydney; an account of Dark's engagement with medical discourses in her earlier fiction; a discussion of Dark's experiences of surveillance by the state; and a paper re-viewing the sexual politics of some prominent men of the time involved in sexual reform campaigns including Dark's father, Dowell O'Reilly.
Dark told her friend Jean Devanny that from a young age she 'took a literary career for granted.' (l) She spent her early life with her father, a poet and Labor MLA, and her mother, also called Eleanor, who was a talented pianist but submerged in an 'angel in the house' role and who died in 1914. Dowell in 1917 married his cousin, Molly, a portrait painter-after an improbable epistolary courtship of her in England in 1916, that included such enticements as: 'Immutable law has set aside woman for childbirth and man for thought-birth,' and 'I have never yet known a "happy couple".' (2) Molly did not do much more painting after she came to Australia. Christina Stead has been read as writing out an overpowering influence of her father in The Man Who Loved Children (1946), and Dark's biographers Barbara Brooks and Judith Clark suggest that, somewhat similarly, 'when Eleanor started to write it was as if she was in dialogue with her father' and that even after his death in 1923, she was still 'negotiating with …
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Publication information: Article title: Introduction. (Focus on Eleanor Dark). Contributors: Ferrier, Carole - Author. Journal title: Hecate. Volume: 27. Issue: 1 Publication date: May 2001. Page number: 7+. © 1999 Hecate Press. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
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