'Almost twenty years after her death, no biography of Australian poet and librettist Gwen Harwood (1920-1995) has been published, despite her having been hailed by one of her peers as "the outstanding Australian poet of the twentieth century." Harwood published over four hundred works in her lifetime, wrote a series of libretti, and received several prominent literary awards. Two biographers have abandoned the task in the face of restrictions imposed by Harwood's literary executor, her son John Harwood; and these restrictions continue to thwart would-be biographers. The two published collections of Harwood's personal letters focus on her male friendships, thus contributing to often prurient speculation regarding Harwood's private life and the inspiration for her writing. The lack of a biography has compounded this, while the omissions, elisions and evasions in the published letters-that most malleable of genres-reveal the pitfalls of reading such edited collections as a form of epistolary autobiography.'