Henry Handel Richardson has been celebrated for her classic Australian novels: The Getting of Wisdom and The Fortunes of Richard Mahony. However, her own life story remains to be told. This book, accordingly, provides the first complete biography of the enigmatic Australian literary icon, shedding new light on her eventful life.
'The private life and personality of Ethel Florence Richardson has an enduring fascination. This is partly because, under the pseudonym Henry Handel Richardson, she wrote one the few great Australian novels of the twentieth century, The Fortunes of Richard Mahony. Equally enticing to readers and critics is the intertwining in her work of biography, autobiography and fiction. The author herself, who fiercely and sometimes mischievously guarded her privacy, was her own unreliable witness. This substantial and satisfying biography by Michael Ackland brings new discoveries and insights, most notably from Richardson's European years when the would-be musician changed course to become a writer. This is an important work, astute and persuasively argued.' Brenda Niall, award-winning biographer
"An essential study for those interested in Richardson, best known for her Australian novels The Getting of Wisdom and The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, this comprehensive, detailed portrait of an elusively private woman is also a fascinating read about a life that bridged the end of the century into the advent of the Great War." - English Literature in Transition, Nadine Cooper, University of North Carolina at Greensboro