Dr Sylvia Martin is a writer, cultural historian and former actor. She has also worked as a reviewer, editor and manuscript assessor. Her research interests include feminist auto/biography, Australian women's writing, and theories of sexuality. She has been a scholar based at the University of Tasmania.
'A girl from a working class background, Ida Leeson successfully penetrated the bourgeoisie to become a woman of achievement in what was still predominantly a man's world. When she was appointed Mitchell Librarian in 1932 there was very public controversy over whether it was appropriate to appoint a woman to such a senior position.
'In what we now acknowledge to be a heroic period of Australian writing and publishing, Ida became a trailblazer for women, for librarians, and a champion of the lively literary culture of Australia in the 1930s and 1940s. She was friendly with many of the leading literary figures of the time, such as James McAuley, Christopher Brennan, Marjorie Barnard, Flora Eldershaw and most notably Miles Franklin, for whom she was a kind of honorary proof-reader and literary advisor (she was even written into the novel Pioneers on Parade by Miles Franklin and Dymphna Cusack).
'She was also a close friend of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, and for some time both Ida and her partner, Florence Birch, lived as part of the bohemian enclave the Griffins established around them at Castlecrag. Brought to vivid life by Sylvia Martin, here is the story of a pioneering woman who lead an extraordinary life.' (Publisher's blurb)
'A study of 20th century female friendship played out in Australia and England. Ms Martin concentrates on two important friendships in the life of writer and political activist, Mary Fullerton. Mabel Singleton, Mary's companion of more than 30 years, and the parenting of Mabel's only child inform research into the erotic elements of their writings. While Miles Franklin and Mary were colleagues, all three were devoted friends.'