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Dr Germaine Greer

In 1971, Germaine Greer was the first Australian woman to publish an internationally successful feminist treatise.

Honour Roll

Germaine Greer was born on 29 January 1939, and grew up in Melbourne's bayside suburbs. Germaine attended the Star of the Sea Convent in Gardenvale, and her good results led to scholarships. She first studied at the Teachers' College.

In 1956, she transferred to the University of Melbourne to study for a Bachelor of Arts where she was also involved in student theatre and the university paper, Farrago. She was notorious and outspoken, which was unusual for a female student so she stood out from the crowd. After completing her degree, Germaine moved to Sydney to study for her Masters at Sydney University.

In 1963, she went to Cambridge to study for her doctorate and was received as a good student and actress. Her non-conformity made her a star and she continued to write, especially for underground magazines. She lectured at Warwick University from 1967-72 and participated in talkback radio.

Germaine was approached by a publisher and, in 1969, The Female Eunuch was released. In it she argued that women have been castrated by patriarchal society, a theory which opened up much discussion. Her timing was excellent for women were ready to hear these words and it became an international best seller, despite it being a difficult read. It was translated into twelve languages. She became a most controversial public figure, the 'high priestess' of women's liberation as some journalists called her. In 1971, she was voted Britain's 'Woman of the Year'. When she visited Australia in 1971 she was well received, although her book aroused much debate.

She spent a lot of time researching for her next book The Obstacle Race: the fortunes of women painters and their work (1979). That year she was appointed Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma where she established the Tulsa Centre for the Study of Women's Literature. Her next books were literary but then she returned to writing about women with Sex and Destiny: the politics of human fertility (1984) and The Change: Women, ageing and the menopause (1991). This drew attention to a much hidden subject. In 1989, she published an autobiographical book about her relationship with her father entitled, Daddy We Hardly Knew You.

She has since worked at Cambridge University and in 1998 became the Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. Germaine certainly left her mark in Australia where her words reached suburban middle class women.

As Beatrice Faust said, "The value of her book is psychological, not political: it is like Bicycle Thieves, Cathy Come Home, Kes: it holds a mirror up to nature, and neither men nor women can avoid being moved by what they see there".