The letters in this selection were written between 1943 and Harwood's death in 1995. Over half of the letters are to her good friend Tony Riddell; other correspondents include her biographer Alison Hoddinott and well-known figures from literary, artistic and musical circles.The letters are arranged chronologically and grouped into five time periods, each group prefaced by a brief biographical introduction.
Gwen Harwood was a prodigious letter writer who placed a high value on friendship: the letters display the "generosity of spirit, biting wit, and a superb command of language [which] characterise both her poetry and her letters to friends" (Cover). The selection offers a wealth of detail about Harwood's daily life, family and friends life as well as casting valuable light on her poetry and on literary personalities, issues and events of the period and Harwood's relationship with editors and publishers. Many of the letters written during the early 1960s give background details to the use of pseudonyms and the perpetration of literary hoaxes such as the publication of the "Eloisa to Abelard' acrostic sonnets and the poem "The Sentry", co-authored with Vincent Buckley.The letters also contain a significant number of previously unpublished occasional poems, usually satirical or parodic. Verse letters and poems included within letters have been individually indexed.