Elizabeth Harrower (writer)

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Elizabeth Harrower
Born(1928-02-08)8 February 1928
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died7 July 2020(2020-07-07) (aged 92)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
OccupationNovelist, short story writer, journalist

Elizabeth Harrower (8 February 1928[1] – 7 July 2020) was an Australian novelist and short story writer. She has been considered "one of the great novelists of Sydney".[2] Much of her work tackles the theme of domestic abuse, particularly the psychological abuse of vulnerable women at the hands of their manipulative, deceitful and tyrannical male partners.

Early life[edit]

She was born in Sydney but spent her childhood in industrial Newcastle, New South Wales, living with her grandmother after the divorce of her parents. One of her uncles died in the Sandakan death marches.[2] She lived in London from 1951 to 1959. On her return to Sydney she worked as a reviewer for The Sydney Morning Herald, for the ABC, and in publishing.[3]


Harrower published her first three novels in quick succession, beginning with Down in the City in 1957. Novelist Christina Stead was a champion of her work, praising The Long Prospect in particular. In 1971 her fifth novel In Certain Circles was set to be published until she abruptly withdrew it from publication following the death of her mother.[4]

In an interview with The Australian, Harrower claimed that she had written the book under pressure after receiving a grant and called the act of writing it "forced labour".[5] Afterwards she published a few short stories before giving her writing up entirely by 1977.

In 2012, following a period of obscurity during which all of her novels fell out of print, Harrower experienced a small revival when Michael Heyward and Penny Hueston, editors of the independent press Text Publishing, began to reprint her works. They attempted to persuade Harrower to publish In Certain Circles and she eventually acquiesced, allowing the novel to be published in 2014.[6] The novel received positive reviews and renewed interest in all of Harrower's novels. In 2015, a collection of stories from throughout Harrower's career was published as A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories.[3]


Harrower died on 7 July 2020, aged 92.[where?][7]

Awards and nominations[edit]



Short fiction[edit]

  • A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories (2015)
Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
Alice 2015 "Alice". The New Yorker. 90 (46): 56–61. 2 February 2015.


  1. ^ "Harrower, Elizabeth | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com.
  2. ^ a b "Elizabeth Harrower: nearly 90 and still dangerous". The Australian. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b Adelaide, Debra (1988) Australian women writers: a bibliographic guide, London, Pandora, p. 87
  4. ^ Au, Jessica (28 April 2014). "In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower – book review". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  5. ^ Trinca, Helen (27 October 2012). "Novelist Elizabeth Harrower has lived dangerously but kept her words to herself". The Australian. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  6. ^ Wood, James (20 October 2014). "No Time for Lies – Rediscovering Elizabeth Harrower". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  7. ^ Obituary; retrieved 13 July 2020.
  8. ^ a b Elizabeth Harrower biography, John Colmer
  9. ^ Guide to the Papers of Elizabeth Harrower MS 8237, National Library of Australia
  10. ^ "Harrower wins 2015 Voss Literary Prize". Books + Publishing. 26 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  11. ^ "NSW Premier's Literary Awards" (PDF). SL Magazine. 8 (4): 35. Summer 2015–2016.
  12. ^ Short stories unless otherwise noted.

External links[edit]