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Kylie Tennant Kylie Tennant i(A20429 works by) (a.k.a. Kylie Rodd; Mrs Lewis Rodd)
Born: Established: 12 Mar 1912 Manly, Manly - Allambie - Curl Curl area, Sydney Northeastern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 29 Feb 1988 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
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Kylie Tennant was educated at the private girls' school, Brighton College, and attended the University of Sydney, but she withdrew in 1931 to live self-sufficiently with a female friend in the farming district of East Hills. Tennant retained a strong interest in the bush and sympathy for the plight of rural workers, experiencing first-hand the living-conditions of the poor during several long treks through rural New South Wales. One such trek took her to Coonabarabran where she visited a university friend, Lewis Rodd, who was stationed there as a teacher. They married in 1932 and in subsequent postings lived in Sydney, Muswellbrook and Laurieton, each providing settings and experiences for Tennant's fiction.

By 1935 Tennant had published a number of short stories in the Bulletin. On the urging of her father, she submitted the manuscript of her first novel, Tiburon, to the judges of the S. H. Prior Memorial Prize and won the award for 1935. Tiburon was serialised and published in book form by the Bulletin, establishing Tennant's reputation as a social-realist for her depiction of small-town life and the treatment of the unemployed. The integrity of such portrayals was supported by Tennant's thorough research that included travelling with itinerant workers and bee-keepers, living in Sydney's slums and remote Aboriginal communities, and even spending a week in gaol.

Tennant's fiction attracted attention in London and New York through the publishers Gollancz and Macmillan, respectively. Her study of nomadic workers in The Battlers (1941) drew comparisons with John Steinbeck's fiction and subsequent novels such as Ride on Stranger (1943), Time Enough Later (1943) and Lost Haven (1946) also attracted positive reviews. A number of these works were translated into several European languages. But when it became difficult to procure these novels in Australia during the 1940s, Tennant established the Sirius Publishing Company with her husband and father to print and distribute her works, an enterprise that lasted for several years.

Tennant's other works include travel literature, biography, award-winning children's books, plays and an autobiography, The Missing Heir (1986). Page restrictions and the possibility of libel forced Tennant to revise her proposed novel on prostitution, Tell Morning This, for Macmillan in 1953; it appeared as The Joyful Condemned later in that year and was published in its entirety by Angus and Robertson fourteen years later.

Tennant's various occupations included assistant publicity officer for the ABC, organiser for the Unemployed Workers' Union, reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald and literary adviser and editor for Macmillan. Between 1957 and 1960 she delivered Commonwealth Literary Fund lectures at many Australian universities and was appointed a Member of the Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Literary Fund in 1961.

In 1980 Kylie Tennant was made AO. She died in 1988.

Most Referenced Works

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon All the Proud Tribesmen London : Macmillan , 1959 Z247047 1959 single work children's fiction children's

'The pearldivers of Firecrest Island are forced to flee their island after a natural disaster; and must come to terms with their old native superstitions, with the help of Kerri–a twelve year old scholarship student.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Pan Books edition).

1960 winner CBCA Book of the Year Awards Book of the Year Award
form y separately published work icon Tether a Dragon (Manuscript version)x401019 Z250620 1950 single work radio play
1951 winner Commonwealth Jubilee Literary Competition Stage Play Competition
y separately published work icon The Battlers London : Gollancz , 1941 Z250421 1941 single work novel (taught in 1 units)

'The flowers flared up from the ground unconquerable. The unrepentant gaiety of the weed, the burning blues and crimsons, set the hills glowing.

''It's a plant that's struck it lucky,' the Stray said thoughtfully. 'It hasn't got no right, but it's there.'

'The Battlers is the story of Snow, a drifter and wanderer, the waiflike Dancy the Stray, from the slums of Sydney, and the other outcasts who accompany them as they travel the country roads looking for work. Like the weed Patterson's Curse, they 'haven't got no right', but they are there. Based on her own experiences of life on the roads in the 1930s, Tennant tells the story of the motley crowd of travellers with compassion and humour. First published in 1941, The Battlers was awarded the Gold Medal of the Australian Literature Society and shared the S. H. Prior Memorial Prize. More than seventy years later, the book's message of survival against the odds is as relevant today as it was then. ' (Publication summary)

1940 joint winner S.H. Prior Memorial Prize
1942 winner ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal

Known archival holdings

National Library of Australia (ACT)
Albinski 220-221
Last amended 16 Oct 2008 09:34:19
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