THE OPEN REPRESENTATION OF SEXUALITY AND FEMALE FORCE – Dorothy Hewett, an aspiring writer during World War II

When poetic vocation grows between sheep and wheat, southeast of Perth

Bobbin Up, her first novel published in 1959 and based on her experiences working in a spinning mill; it was even translated into Russian and hailed as an example of social realist fiction. When Dorothy Hewett was born in Perth (Western Australia) on a May day in 1923, she could not have imagined that she would become a writer. After nearly sixty years in business and six children, she died in Springwood (New South Wales) in August 2002. Surrounded by herds of sheep and vast stretches of wheat, she lived on a farm in Western Australia on Lambton Downs until the age of 12.

After initially being educated through a correspondence school, not only did she start writing poetry around the age of six, but also while traveling to Perth she became fascinated by the world that revolved around the theater. By joining the Communist Party of Australia and writing her own articles in The Workers’ Star for a couple of years, she rejected the lifestyle of her wealthy parents. In her life, Dorothy Hewett created 22 plays, 9 collections of poems and 3 novels.

In 1935, in Perth, where her family opened a theater, she attended the local Ladies College; however, being a shy country girl, he was nicknamed the Hermit Hewett. Dorothy Hewett, one of Australia’s most loved and respected writers, has received eight scholarships that have helped generate her literary awards, such as the 1940 Meanjin Poetry Award and the 1996 Christopher Brennan Award. In 1986, she was appoint a member of the Order of Australia for Service to Literature.

After an attempted suicide, due to sentimental causes, with the poem Testament she won the ABC Poetry Prize of 1945, immediately marrying a lawyer. Surrounded by admirers and friends, shy and funny, she wrote her first novel in just eight weeks. Struggling with health problems for much of her life, and having to look after a large family, Dorothy Hewett only became a full-time writer from the age of 51. In 1960, she married again, this time to a poet, woodcutter and sailor with whom she published What About the People, a joint volume of their poems.

Among other things, she wrote Clancy, Dooley, and Don McLeod, an epic ballad that helped to increase her vocation as protector of indigenous rights. She participated in university life in Western Australia, where, together with friends, she founded the University Drama Society. In Perth, Woollahra and South Perth, she gathered writers, musicians and artists, thus, encouraging the work of young poets, she welcomed the neediest to her home as well. Like the people of Redfern, Dorothy Hewett loved the rural towns of her youth and the university communities.

NULLARBOR TEA PARTY – Unfurling our Japanese parasols out in the desert, we arrange our dolls’ tea set on an upturned butter box. We have invited the little boy whose father keeps the petrol bowser. He pedals down the empty track, a prince on his tricycle. We pour from the china teapot, one finger extended like ladies.Behind us the stone houses of the abandoned Telegraph Station are disappearing under the dunes.A chimney sticks up like a cry for help. The light off the cracked glass dances like semaphore. The yard is littered with the corpses of death adders killed in some cosmic epidemic; their dried skins rattle in the hot wind. There is no other sound, but the pull of the surf on the other side of the dunes, the dried-out skins of the death adders spinning, the trickle of sand waiting to cover us in.

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