Christina Stead i(112 works by) (a.k.a. Christina Ellen Stead)
Born: Established: 17 Jul 1902 Rockdale, Arncliffe - Bexley - Rockdale area, Rockdale - Kogarah area, Sydney Southern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 31 Mar 1983 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
Departed from Australia: 1928
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BiographyHistory

Born in Sydney, Christina Stead graduated from Sydney Teachers College in 1921 and taught for several years, but resigned in 1924 to work in an office and save for a fare to London. She left Australia in 1928 and did not return until 1969.

During her first years in London, Stead completed the manuscript of her first novel, Seven Poor Men of Sydney. She also met the banker and writer, William Blake, with whom she moved to Paris in 1929. Stead's manuscript was accepted by the London publisher Peter Davies on the condition that she first provide a more conventional novel to attract readers. This was to be The Salzburg Tales and both books were published in 1934.

Stead and Blake returned to London in 1935. Stead's next novel, The Beauties and the Furies was first published in New York by Appleton in 1936. In 1937, the couple moved to New York where they would reside for the next ten years. Here they moved in radical circles and wrote for several left-wing publications. On the strength of her earlier publications, Stead was offered a contract by Simon and Schuster for her next two books, while retaining Peter Davies as her London publisher. The first of these was House of All Nations which, like her previous novel, drew on the experience of Stead's five-year residence in Paris.

Stead's most well-known novel was published by Simon and Schuster in 1940. Based on her childhood in Sydney, but set in Baltimore, The Man Who Loved Children is a study of a dysfunctional family, dominated by an egotistical and bullying father, seen through the eyes of the daughter, Louisa. Stead also drew heavily on her memories of Australia for her next novel, For Love Alone (1944), the first contribution to a three book contract with Harcourt Brace. Stead fulfilled the terms of her contract with Letty Fox: Her Luck (1946) and A Little Tea, A Little Chat (1948) before her departure for Europe in 1947. Both novels drew on her experience in America, and the former was banned from sale in Australia by the Literature Censorship Board.

Stead and Blake were married in London on 23 February 1952. Stead's final American novel, The People With Dogs was published later that year in Boston by Little, Brown & Company. But sales were so poor that Stead's agent could not attract the interest of an English publisher. Stead would not publish another book until 1965.

Stead's publishing fortunes were revived in 1965 due to the interest of Stanley Burshaw, a long-time friend who was then working for the New York firm Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Burshaw was instrumental in the republication of The Man Who Loved Children in New York and in London, influentially assisted by the American poet, Randall Jarrell, who provided an enthusiastic introduction to the novel. The growing interest in Stead's work was also marked that year by the first Australian edition of her works, Angus and Robertson's Seven Poor Men of Sydney. Stead followed these re-issues with a new novel, Dark Places of the Heart (Cotters England in London) and a collection of novellas, The Puzzleheaded Girl (1967).

William Blake died on 2 February 1968 and Stead made her first return visit to Australia the next year. She returned to Australia permanently in 1974 and that year was awarded the inaugural Patrick White Award. The Little Hotel (1973) had been published in Sydney by Angus and Robertson before her return and Miss Herbert (The Suburban Wife) was published in 1976 before multiple reissues of many of Stead's novels.

Christina Stead died in March 1983 and her final novel, I'm Dying Laughing: The Humourist (1986), was published posthumously in London and New York, edited by her literary executor, R. G. Geering.

Awards for Works

George The Paris Review , no. 40 1967 extract novella
1967 winner International Awards Aga Khan Prize Annual award for the best work of short fiction published in the Paris Review
Last amended 29 Oct 2015 10:59:52
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