My Brilliant Career was written by Stella Franklin (1879-1954) when she was just nineteen years old. The novel struggled to find an Australian publisher, but was published in London and Edinburgh in 1901 after receiving an endorsement from Henry Lawson. Although Franklin wrote under the pseudonym 'Miles Franklin', Lawson’s preface makes it clear that Franklin is, as Lawson puts it 'a girl.'
The novel relates the story of Sybylla Melvyn, a strong-willed young woman of the 1890s growing up in the Goulburn area of New South Wales and longing to be a writer.
Based on the book by Miles Franklin, this feature film tells the story of an Australian country girl who, at the end of the nineteenth century, wants to make her own way in the outside world.
Rejecting an offer of marriage from a wealthy suitor (who is also her childhood friend), she instead finds herself obligated to work off her father's debt to a neighbouring family, for whom she works as governess and housekeeper. Returning home, she again rejects her suitor's proposal, this time in favour of writing a novel based on her experiences.
Unit Suitable For:
AC: Year 12 (Literature Unit 3)
Passionate, headstrong and imaginative, Sybylla Melvyn is one of the most endearing heroines of Australian literature. 'I am given to something which a man never pardons in a woman. You will draw away as though I were a snake when you hear.' With this warning, Sybylla confesses to her rich and handsome suitor that she is given to writing stories and bound, therefore on a brilliant career. In this ironically titled and riotous first novel by Miles Franklin, originally published in 1901, Sybylla tells the story of growing up passionate and rebellious in rural NSW, where the most that girls could hope for was to marry or to teach. Sybylla will do neither, but that doesn't stop her from falling in love, and it doesn't make the choices any easier. Included in this edition is the sequel, My Career Goes Bung, which sees Sybylla amongst the literati in Sydney.
Source: Harper Collins
'My Brilliant Career, published in 1901, is the first and also the most influential work of Australian writer Miles Franklin (1879—1954). It depicts a “new woman image” which represents an ambitious, imaginative, rebellious bush girl and genuinely reflects the late 19th century Australia. She rebels and fights but fails to get out of the colonial women’s miserable life without any patriarchal persecution. She is reproached and excluded by public. She is left lonely and helpless and is nearly on her breakdown. She is a brave warrior of feminism, but still another tragic character of patriarchy.'