Colin Roderick Lecture
The Foundation for Australian Literary Studies Limited 2012 Colin Roderick Lecture ‘Stories from the Archives – Creating the Edith Trilogy’ by Frank Moorhouse will be held on Tuesday 31 July 2012 from 6pm till 7.30pm at the Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Flinders Mall, Townsville.
Students and members of the public are warmly welcomed to the lecture. Admission is by gold coin donation and there is no need to register for the Townsville event.
Wednesday 1st August 2012, 6pm—7:30pm
Crowther Lecture Theatre 1 (A3.1)
James Cook University, McGregor Road, Smithfield
Admission is by gold coin donation. Refreshments will be served after the lecture. Please register for catering purposes here: https://alumni.jcu.edu.au/2012ColinRoderick-Cns
ABOUT FRANK MOORHOUSE
Frank Moorhouse is a distinguished – and always entertaining – journalist, short story writer, novelist, screenwriter, essayist and lecturer. His interests are as wide as wilderness travel and gourmet food, and his fiction ranges from comic satire with a worldly edge to carefully researched novels dealing with personal lives in international political settings.
Born in Nowra in 1938, Moorhouse became a cadet journalist on Sydney’s Daily Telegraph in the 1950s when, under legendary editor Brian Penton, it was a lively nursery for many famous writers including Donald Horne and Ross Campbell. He then worked as a reporter and editor on country newspapers. Returning to Sydney in the early 1960s, he taught media studies for the Workers’ Educational Association. As an active member of the Australian Journalists’ Association, Frank Moorhouse has explored the relationship of professional writers to society and vigorously campaigned for freedom of expression. A founder of the Australian Copyright Council, which now (renamed Copyright Agency) distributes millions of dollars to Australian writers, he has been a president of the Australian Society of Authors, a member of the Australian Press Council and a prominent member of PEN. He has taught in Australian, British and American universities.
Frank Moorhouse’s first published story appeared in Southerly when he was 18. Many books of short stories (“discontinuous narratives”) followed, among them The Electrical Experience (1974). Many humorous books, such as Room Service, and the acclaimed memoir, Martini: A Memoir continue to give widespread enjoyment. Writing for the screen – television series, short films, major features such as The Girl Who Met Simone de Beauvoir in Paris – has also played a significant part in the career of this prolific professional writer.
Frank Moorhouse’s first novel, a satirical piece titled Conference-ville, appeared in 1976. Since then, among a wealth of distinguished writings, he has produced three major novels, referred to as the “Edith trilogy” after the leading character who appears in all three. In the first two novels, Grand Days (1994), and Dark Palace (2000), which won the Miles Franklin Award, Edith Campbell Berry, a young Australian woman, begins work in the League of Nations, an organisation then alive with high idealism and carrying the hopes of many that it will end all wars. But the brutal realities of international power politics frustrate those hopes and the Second World War eventuates.
In Cold Light (2011), Edith, as a former member of the League, finds herself unwelcome in the United Nations and returns to Australia hoping for a diplomatic post. Disappointed, she turns a minor appointment in city planning into an important job, before being given work in Atomic Energy. When Edith returns to Australia, the Liberal government (a former member of which had promoted her career) is working to ban the Communist Party, while her brother and his partner are Communist Party organisers. She marries a transvestite but later takes an aggressively male partner. This novel deals with real political figures, such as Robert Menzies, the long-serving Liberal Prime Minister, and Ian Turner, the Communist intellectual and activist, as well as fictional characters. But ultimately it is not about politics, national or sexual. Rather it is about a woman engaged with universal experience living within a localised political and sexual milieu. Frank Moorhouse brilliantly explores the shape and texture of Edith’s fulfilling and fractured relationships, her struggle for professional success and her quest for deeper understanding of what constitutes a truly productive and satisfying life.
Frank Moorhouse has received many awards open to Australian writers: the Miles Franklin Award, the Adelaide Festival National Prize for Fiction, The Age Book of the Year Award and the Australian Literature Society’s Gold Medal. He has also won the Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public Debate.