Thelma Forshaw

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Thelma Forshaw
Born Thelma Honora Forshaw
(1923-08-01)1 August 1923
Glebe Point, New South Wales, Australia
Died 8 October 1995(1995-10-08) (aged 72)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Other names Thelma Körting
Occupation Writer, journalist
Known for An Affair of Clowns (1967)

Thelma Honora Forshaw or Thelma Körting (1 August 1923 – 8 October 1995) was an Australian short story writer and journalist. In 1967 she wrote a largely autobiographical collection of short stories, An Affair of Clowns. As a journalist she worked as a freelance writer and book reviewer for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian, The Bulletin (since defunct), Meanjin, Nation, and Quadrant. Forshaw died on 8 October 1995 of a stroke in her sleep, aged 72.


Thelma Honora Forshaw was born on 1 August 1923 at Glebe Point – a suburb of Sydney.[1] Her father, Leslie Alfred Forshaw (1901–1935), was a labourer and part-time boxer, her mother was Mary Winifred Forshaw (née Burke, 1889–1949), and her two younger brothers are Walter and Leslie junior.[1][2] From August 1935 after her father's death,[3] the family lived with relatives in Annandale. Forshaw was educated at St Michael's Catholic Primary School in Stanmore and St Fiacre's Primary School in Leichardt.[2] At the age of 14 years she wrote a poem, "Idyll of a Summer Noon", which was published in The Sydney Morning Herald in February 1938.[4] Forshaw undertook tertiary studies at Sydney Teachers' College.[2]

During World War II, on 15 April 1942, Forshaw enlisted in the WAAAF and was honourably discharged as an Aircraftwoman on 1 March 1943.[1][5][6] She worked as a secretary and an advertising writer before marrying George Korting, an Austrian refugee, in 1948. In January 1951, using her married name, Thelma Korting, she wrote "This Veil Wore Me!" in The Argus[7] Subsequently she worked as a freelance writer and book reviewer for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian, The Bulletin (since defunct), Meanjin, Nation, and Quadrant, amongst other publications.[2]

Her short stories appeared in a number of journals and anthologies. In 1967, a collection of her short stories, An Affair of Clowns, was published by Angus & Robertson.[2][8] Stephen Torre, in The Cambridge History of Australian Literature (2009), described the book's first section, "Some Customs of My Clan" as "stories about a working-class Irish Catholic family narrated by a daughter, an aspiring writer. The manners of the Sydney 'clan' include hard drinking, gambling, ferocious gossiping and scandal-mongering, fighting and loving".[9] These stories were notable for their realistic characters set within her gritty, penetrating and humorous depictions of Australian city life in the first half of the 20th century, with a focus on outsiders, working class lifestyles and the migrant experience.

In January 1972 Forshaw wrote a review of Germaine Greer's book, The Female Eunuch (1970), for The Age which "has stirred up a considerable controversy".[10] According to Keith Dunstan in the book, The Best Australian Profiles (2004), this review was "[t]he most famous ... [Forshaw] described [The Female Eunuch] as 'the orchestrated over-the-back-fence grizzle ... based on the curious fancy ... we were all men, and then some fiend castrated half of us'".[11] Forshaw compared herself to Greer: "I'm not a middle-class lady defending her domain. My parents were working class ... I'm a housewife because I want to, I write because I want to, I love my husband who is a male, chauvinist pig and I love my two children".[12] Thelma Forshaw died on 8 October 1995 of a stroke in her sleep, aged 72, and was survived by her husband George and their children Helene and Grea.[13]


Short story collection
  • Forshaw, Thelma (1967). An Affair of Clowns : Short Stories and Sketches. Sydney, NSW: Angus & Robertson. [8]
Selected anthologised short stories

Thelma Forshaw's short stories have appeared in numerous publications and have been widely anthologised.

  • “Love-Life of a Boozer”, Modern Australian Humour, Bill Wannan (ed), Lansdowne Press Pty Ltd, 1962
  • “Better than Australia, No?”, Two Ways Meet: Stories of Migrants in Australia, Louise E. Rorabacher (ed), FW Cheshire, 1963
  • “The Widow”, “The One That Got Away”, Australian Pavements: An Urban Anthology, Bill Wannan (ed), Lansdowne Press Pty Ltd, 1964
  • “Love-Life of a Boozer”, An Overland Muster: Selections from Overland, 1954-1964, Stephen Murray-Smith (ed), Jacaranda Press, 1965
  • Forshaw, Thelma (1967). "The Wowser". Short Stories of Australia: The Moderns. Compiled, introduction by Beatrice Davis. Sydney, NSW: Angus & Robertson. [14]
  • “The Widow”, Australian Writing Today, Charles Higham (ed), Penguin Books, 1968
  • “Love-Life of a Boozer”, The Pick of Modern Australian Humour: A sparkling collection from the work of Australia's foremost humorists, Bill Wannan (ed), Lansdowne Press Pty Ltd, 1968
  • “The Mateship Syndrome”, Modern Australian Short Stories, Mary Lord (ed), Edward Arnold, 1971
  • Forshaw, Thelma (1972). "The Widow". In Hal Porter. It Could Be You. Adelaide, SA: Rigby. ISBN 0-851-79406-8. [15]
  • “The Wowser”, Best Australian Short Stories, Douglas Stewart and Beatrice Davis (ed), Lloyd O'Neil, 1973
  • “The Ace (Mateship Syndrome) ”, Stories from Down Under, AG Ayre (ed), Longman, 1976
  • “The Demo”, The Penguin Book of Australian Short Stories, Harry Heseltine (ed), Penguin Books, 1976
  • “The Lampoonist”, The White Chrysanthemum: Changing Images of Australian Motherhood, Nancy Keesing (ed), Angus & Robertson, 1977
  • “On Our Safari”, Australian Short Stories, Kerryn Goldsworthy (ed), JM Dent Pty Ltd, 1983
  • “A tuntetes (The Demo) ”, Vilagirodalmi Folyoirat (World Literary Magazine) 1985/8, Kardos Laszlo (ed), World, 1985
  • “The Demo”, Impressions of Australia, Eva Laegdsgaard, Inger Marie Dahl (ed), Systime, 1986
  • Forshaw, Thelma (1992). "The Mateship Syndrome". In Lawerence Thomas Hergenhan. The Australian Short Story : A Collection 1890s to 1990s (2nd ed.). St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press. ISBN 978-0-7022-2348-8. [16]
  • “Better than Australia, No?”, Living Here: Short Stories from Australasia 1938-1988, Edmund Campion (ed), Allen & Unwin, 1988
  • “The Demo”, Ourselves Among Others: Cross Cultural Readings for Writers, Carl J Verberg (ed), Bedford Books, 1988
  • “The Procurer”, Feeling Restless: Australian Women's Short Stories 1940-1969, Connie Burns and Marygai McNamara (ed), Imprint, 1989
  • “The Grand Passion”, Goodbye to Romance: Stories by New Zealand and Australian Women Writers, Elizabeth Webby and Lydia Wevers (ed), Allen & Unwin, 1989
  • “Underdogging”, Stop Me if You've Heard It: Anthology of Humorous Short Stories, Jane Arms (ed), ABC Enterprises, 1989
  • “The Mateship Syndrome”, Under Southern Skies, Eva Laegdsgaard and Inger Marie Dahl (ed), Systime, 1989
  • “The Widow”, The Oxford Book of Australian Short Stories, Michael Wilding (ed), Oxford University Press, 1994


  1. ^ a b c "A9301, Forshaw Thelma Honora". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 13 November 2012. Forshaw Thelma Honora : Service Number - 93720 : Date of birth - 01 Aug 1923 : Place of birth - Glebe Point NSW : Place of enlistment - Sydney: Next of Kin - Forshaw Mary .
  2. ^ a b c d e "Who Lived in Your Street? – Thelma Honora Forshaw (1923–95)" (PDF). Glebe Society Bulletin. The Glebe Society Inc. July–August 2011. p. 8. ISSN 1836-599X. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Family Notices". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954). Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia. 10 August 1935. p. 13. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Forshaw, Thelma (8 February 1938). "Idyll of a Summer Noon". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842–1954). NSW: National Library of Australia. p. 23 Supplement: Women's Supplement. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Forshaw, Thelma Honora". World War Two Nominal Roll. Commonwealth of Australia. 2002. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Adelaide (1988) p. 66.
  7. ^ "This Veil Wore Me! Says Thelma Korting". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 26 January 1951. p. 29 Supplement: The Argus Week-End Magazine. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "An Affair of Clowns: Short Stories and Sketches / by Thelma Forshaw". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Torre, Stephen. "The Short Story Since 1950". In Peter Pierce. The Cambridge History of Australian Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 430. ISBN 978-0-52188-165-4. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Letters to the Editor". The Age. Fairfax Media. 20 January 1972. p. 8. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Dunstan, Keith (2004). "Germaine Greer". In Matthew Ricketson. The Best Australian Profiles. Melbourne, Vic: Black Inc. p. 53. ISBN 9781863952934. 
  12. ^ Lewis, John (21 January 1972). "Thelma is so Funny, Bawdy". The Age. Fairfax Media. p. 4. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  13. ^ in Thorpe, et al. (1995).
  14. ^ "Short Stories of Australia: The Moderns / Chosen with an Introduction by Beatrice Davis". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "It Could Be You / edited by Hal Porter". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "The Australian Short Story : A Collection 1890s to 1990s / edited and introduced by Laurie Hergenhan". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 


  • Adelaide, Debra (1988). Australian Women Writers: A Bibliographic Guide. London: Pandora. ISBN 0-863-58148-X. 
  • Thorpe, D W; Alexander, Kirsten; Kilgannon, Clare; Rose, Meredith; Singh, Raylee, eds. (1995). Who's Who of Australian Writers (2 ed.). Ann Arbor: National Centre for Australian Studies, University of Michigan. p. 228. ISBN 978-1-8755-8920-3. 

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