- Honour Roll
Miles Franklin was born in 1879 in Talbingo, New South Wales. She is honoured as an early feminist journalist and one of the first Australian women to show insight into the distinctive Australian culture in Australian writing.
Her writings included her autobiographical book, My Brilliant Career, published in 1901. This won her public recognition. In 1906, Miles, having worked in Australia with suffragists, Vida Goldstein and Rose Scott, went to New York and worked with the National Women's Trade Union League.
One of her jobs was editing a journal for women workers. In her articles, she united the literary with the industrial and with women's rights. In England she worked in similar feminist and labour networks, working in housing and urban reform movements.
Returning to Australia in 1932 she was active in the Fellowship of Australian Writers. Miles supported the new literary journals, Meanjin and Southerly, and various fellowship schemes to nurture Australian writers. Her contributions to Australian literary history and appreciation culminated in lectures delivered at the University of Western Australia (1950), published posthumously as Laughter, Not for a Cage (1956).
Miles' feminist and literary vision of Australia survives in the annual Miles Franklin Award (first won by Patrick White for Voss in 1957), her published work, the international screen success of the film starring Australian actress Judy Davis based on Miles' novel My Brilliant Career (a development she anticipated for Australian novels in the 1930s), and in her voluminous papers, willed in the Mitchell Library, Sydney.
Reviewed 26 May 2022