Coral Magnolia Lansbury (1929/1930 – 3 April 1991) was an Australian-born writer and academic.
Parents and family
Coral Magnolia Lansbury was born in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda. Her parents were Oscar Vincent Stephen Lansbury  (died 1968, Sydney) and his wife, May (née Morle; died 1968, Sydney). They were touring Australia in a production of the musical Showboat, and were stranded by the Great Depression. She was a distant cousin of actress Angela Lansbury.
Marriages and child
Lansbury married three times. Her first husband was the iconic radio actor and producer George Edwards, né Harold Parks, best known today for creating and starring in the radio version of Dad and Dave. Edwards had had three previous wives. He left his wife, actress Nell Stirling, for the much younger Lansbury. They married on 20 February 1953. Edwards died in 1953.
On 24 October 1954, Coral Lansbury gave birth to a son, Malcolm Turnbull, by Bruce Bligh Turnbull, whom she married in 1955. When Malcolm was nine years of age, Lansbury left the family, and Australia. She subsequently married Prof. John Salmon, a New Zealand-born academic and foundation professor of history at the University of New South Wales from 1960-65. John Salmon died on 9 February 2005.
Malcolm Turnbull became leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party and Opposition Leader in the Australian Parliament on 15 September 2008. He is a prominent Australian republican and Roman Catholic convert.
Work - Australia and the United States
Early work in Australia
Lansbury's father worked in the early radio industry in Australia with the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) as it was then known. He got her a part in a radio drama. She worked for the ABC into the 1960s but as television supplanted radio drama she turned more to academic interests.
Lansbury worked as both a scriptwriter and actor in radio during its heyday. The National Film and Sound Archive holds a collection of many radio programs. They feature many of the great actors from the time, many of whom also became famous in Australia, and some overseas, for theatre, film and television work. The NSA list of the productions with which she is associated includes:
Escape me Never: Love story of a wealthy English girl, Fenella (Lansbury) and a struggling musician, Caryl (Michael Pate. 52 x 15min episodes. 1950s
Becket: Re-enactment of the relationship between Henry II and Thomas Becket. 104 x 15 min episodes
Empty Arms: Drama serial about adoption and the effect on the mother. 104 x 15 min episodes
Fallen Angel: Angel, a successful model whose husband dies leaving her with a newborn child. 146 x 15 min episodes (1955)
Judith: Based on the biblical story of Judith, played by actress Judi Farr. 104 x 15 min episodes.
The Reverend Matthew: A story about a country minister. 1105 x 15 min episodes (1956–59)
Stairway to Fame: Cast included Sheila Sewell, Ray Barrett, Dinah Shearing, Lyndon Barbour, John Meillon, Max Orbiston, Margo Lee, Neva Carr Glyn, Ruth Cracknell, Queenie Ashton. 208 episodes (c. 1954)
Thirty Minutes To Go: Mystery drama. 30 minutes.
This Was Sylvia: Dramatic story of a beautiful and insatiably ambitious woman. 208 x 15 min episodes. 1956
True Dog Stories: Stories about different breeds of dogs. 26 x 15 min episodes (1960s)
In the United States
After leaving Australia, Lansbury worked as an academic in the United States. Her major interest was Victorian literature. Netween 1975 and 1984 she wrote four books on Anthony Trollope and other Victorian literary figures. She served as president of the Victorian Studies Association and of the Victorian executive committee of the Modern Language Association.
Lansbury wrote five works of fiction: Ringarra(1985),Sweet Alice (1986), Felicity (1987), The Grotto (1989) and, published posthumously, Opium!
Lansbury's works include:
- Lansbury, Coral (1975). Elizabeth Gaskell: The Novel of Social Crisis. Elek. p. 204. ISBN 0-236-31147-6.
- Lansbury, Coral (1970). Arcady in Australia: The Evocation of Australia in Nineteenth-century. Melbourne University Press. p. 202.
- Lansbury, Coral (1970). The Reasonable Man: Trollope's Legal Fiction. Princeton University Press. p. 227. ISBN 0-691-06457-1.
- Lansbury, Coral (1985). The Old Brown Dog: Women, Workers, and Vivisection in Edwardian England. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 212. ISBN 0-299-10250-5.
- Lansbury, Coral (1985). Ringarra. Harper & Row. p. 212. ISBN 0-06-015516-7.
- Lansbury, Coral (1985). Felicity. Dutton. p. 189. ISBN 0-525-24561-8.
- Lansbury, Coral (1989). The Grotto. Knopf. p. 537. ISBN 0-394-57438-9.
- Lansbury, Coral (1989). Sweet Alice. E.P. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-24825-0.
One reviewer of one of her books, The Reasonable Man: Trollope's Legal Fiction was her son, Malcolm Turnbull. He wrote in his regular column in The Bulletin magazine in 1981: "It is refreshing, if not surprising, to find someone who maintains that that most pellucid of novelists, Anthony Trollope, owed his literary style to the law....The book provides a fresh insight into the novels of Trollope and to an explanation for his style."
Lansbury died of cancer in the United States on 3 April 1991, aged 61, at her home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A professor of English, she was the Dean of Women at Rutgers University at the time of her death.
- "Will privilege drown his message?". The Sydney Morning Herald. 17 September 2008.
- NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages registration number 673/1953
- NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages registration number 19824/1968
- NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages registration number 19673/1968
- New York Times obituary
- George Edwards
- NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages registration number 18548/1953
- NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages registration number 21952/1955
- Lane, Richard: The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama Volume Two, [ScreenSound Australia, 2000] ISBN 0-642-70503.
- D.D. McNicoll. The Australian, 19 September 2008
- Bryn Mawr Alumni Bulletin Obituary
- National Film and Sound Archive Australian Radio Series 1930s to 1970s
- Lee, Sandra (3 December 2006). "A leader in waiting?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- "The Phoenix" (PDF). Rutgers University. 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- Article by Richard Ackland, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 October 2003