Using excerpts from the late author’s writing, this documentary reveals the complex and contradictory woman behind the controversial public persona of elder stateswoman of Australian literature.
Dorothy Coade Hewett AM (21 May 1923 – 25 August 2002) was an Australian feminist poet, novelist and playwright. She has been called “one of Australia’s best-loved and most respected writers”.
She was also a member of the Communist Party for a period, though she clashed on many occasions with the party leadership.
In recognition of her 20 volumes of published literature, she received the Order of Australia, has a Writer’s Walk plaque at Circular Quay, and a street named for her in Canberra.
The Dorothy Hewett Award for an unpublished manuscript was established in 2015 by UWA Publishing. She was also recipient of the Christopher Brennan Award.
“There is so much to discuss on the topic of Dorothy Hewett. She was controversial, highly political and prolific, publishing 15 poetry collections, 15 play scripts, three novels, a collection of short stories, a libretto and an autobiography. Her work explores the fecund terrain of female desire and subjectivity, bridges genres and blurs the line between fiction and autobiography—that term that writers, especially female writers, often hate because it assumes a dearth of imagination and a restriction to the intimate, domestic realms of one’s own life. But read Hewett’s autobiography, Wild Card: An Autobiography 1923–1958 (1990), and you’ll find that the events of her play The Chapel Perilous (1972) or the poetry in Kate Lilley’s Selected Poems of Dorothy Hewett (2010) form a sort of abridged sequence of key events from Hewett’s real life.” Meanjin - Jane Jervis-Read