Four Australian women writing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—a time when stories of bush heroism and mateship abounded, a time when a writing career might be an elusive thing for a woman.
Friends and Rivals is a vivid and engaging account of the intersecting and entwined lives of Ethel Turner, author of the much loved Seven Little Australians, Barbara Baynton, who wrote of the harshness of bush life, Nettie Palmer, essayist and critic, and Henry Handel Richardson, of The Getting of Wisdom and The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney fame.
Brenda Niall illuminates a fascinating time in Australia’s literary history and brings to life the remarkable women who made it so.
Brenda Niall is one of Australia’s foremost biographers. She is the author of five award-winning biographies, including her acclaimed accounts of the Boyd family and her portrait of the Durack sisters, True North. In 2016 she won the Australian Literature Society’s Gold Medal and the National Biography Award for Mannix. In 2004 she was awarded the Order of Australia for ‘services to Australian literature, as an academic, biographer and literary critic’.
‘Deeply absorbing, fascinating and moving…now for the first time I have a sense of the women behind me…I loved the tone—detached and masterly but with a light touch, and a wit that’s sharp but never cruel: and always sympathetically attuned to the strain of the women’s attempts to find a balance between their inner and outer lives.’ Helen Garner
‘Few other writers have such an ability to understand and describe the relationships that create the characters of her subjects.’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘Among living Australian biographers, only Philip Ayres matches Brenda Niall for painstaking research serving narratives at once spirited and judicious…Dr Niall ignores nothing.’ Spectator