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Barbara Hanrahan Barbara Hanrahan i(A34110 works by) (a.k.a. Barbara Janice Hanrahan)
Born: Established: 6 Sep 1939 Adelaide, South Australia, ; Died: Ceased: 1 Dec 1991 Adelaide, South Australia,
Gender: Female
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Barbara Hanrahan was the only daughter of William Maurice ('Bob' ) Hanrahan and his wife Ronda (Goodridge). Her father died of tuberculosis the day after her first birthday. She grew up in her grandmother's house in Rose St, Thebarton with her mother (a commercial artist), her grandmother and her grandmother's sister Reece, who had Down Syndrome, and this background features strongly in her writing. She was educated at Thebarton infant, primary and technical schools. In 1955 she moved to Oaklands Park with her mother and new stepfather. She attended the Adelaide Teachers' College and the SA School of Art.

Hanrahan began making prints in the early 1960s, and after teaching for a brief period she went to London (1963) and studied at the Central School of Art. After a year back in Adelaide she moved to London again in late 1965, and did not visit Australia again until 1973. As a child she had written and illustrated a novel, Emily of Sunnybrook, in an exercise book, basing it on L. M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon. When she was about 19 she wrote stories for the Teachers' College magazine, Torch. Then, when she started to make prints, 'words got into them' . Whilst in London she began writing in earnest, when the death of her grandmother in 1968 awakened childhood memories. 'The old world was gone from me physically, yet it was inside my body, hurting so much it had to get out'.

While appreciating the warmth and security of her childhood home, she rejected what she saw as the suburban mediocrity and conditioned conformity of her mother's and grandmother's lives. She and her partner, the Adelaide sculptor Jo Steele, who had himself reacted strongly against family and social pressures, chose not to marry or have children. In 1975 she taught for a year at the SA School of Art, and in 1978 she and Jo returned from London to live in Adelaide. They set up their studios in Thebarton. Barbara was a prolific artist, producing more than 400 different prints over the years, as well as a number of paintings, and her work was exhibited in Australia, London and France. She held over 30 one-woman exhibitions. She was Writer in Residence at the University of Adelaide for a period in 1987, and later the same year, at Rollins College, Florida (USA).

In 1991 Hanrahan died of cancer. The Barbara Hanrahan Fellowship, a writing fellowship, has been created by the Arts Division of the SA Department of the Arts and Cultural Heritage, and the University of South Australia's City West campus has named the Barbara Hanrahan Building in her memory.

Most Referenced Works


  • Hazel de Berg interview available.

Affiliation Notes

  • South Australian
Last amended 30 Sep 2008 10:56:25
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