Review Blog

Jun 15 2015

First Things First: Selected Letters of Kate Llewellyn 1977-2004 edited by Ruth Bacchus and Barbara Hill

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Wakefield Press, 2015. ISBN: 9781743053645
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. Ruth Bacchus and Barbara Hill are researchers at Charles Sturt University (Bathurst). They have compiled an anthology of letters written by Kate Llewellyn to her friends and fellow authors and writers.
Kate Llewellyn (poet and author) has published many notable works, including her most recent book, A Fig at The Gate (2014).
These letters have the reader peeking into Kate's life to see her as funny, vulnerable, weary and energetic. The letters give insight into her simple pleasures such as making Christmas cakes, growing seeds and gardening. They also describe her as a writer, from miserable experiences as a writer in residence to pleasant surprises such as a reviewer (SA's Katherine England) actually reading her work when Kate's experience was that many reviewers had not actually read her work.
They also reveal an author who was constantly on the move and had opinions on feminism that were bold for their day.
'I took a taxi home and the driver said I was the third drunk lady he had driven that night and wondered what was going on in the town and I said 'It's the Women's Arts Festival, mate, and there's about a thousand of us in the same state'.
Kate, and the recipients of the letters, are still alive. Opportunities to hear her speak lend authenticity to these letters and reinforce the frankness and honesty with which she writes.
Linda Guthrie

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