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Charmian Clift Charmian Clift i(A5730 works by)
Born: Established: 30 Aug 1923 Kiama, Kiama area, Illawarra, South Coast, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 8 Jul 1969 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
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BiographyHistory

Charmian Clift was born in Kiama, New South Wales, and educated at local schools, but inherited her love for books from her parents. After leaving school, she worked locally, but moved to Sydney when she won the New South Wales title in Pix magazine's Beach Girl Quest.

Clift joined the army during World War II and, while editing an army magazine she began to write short stories. After the war she worked for the Argus. Here she met the writer George Johnston and the couple married several years later after Johnston secured a divorce from his first wife. Johnston and Clift collaborated on several novels, winning the Sydney Morning Herald's £2000 prize for High Valley in 1949. In 1951 Clift moved with Johnston to London where he was in charge of the Associate Newspaper Service's office. In 1954, Johnston abandoned this career to concentrate on his writing, moving the family to Greece where they spent the next decade. While in Greece Clift wrote fiction, a semi-autobiographical account of her life in Greece and travel writing. In 1964 they returned to Australia and Clift's romantic novel, Honour's Mimic was published, attracting praise in America and Britain, but, as with her previous work, receiving little attention in Australia because of poor distribution.

Clift's profile in Australia changed in the 1960s when her weekly columns in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Herald attracted a large readership. These columns eventually extended beyond the "women's point of view" that she was commissioned to provide, becoming substantial essays on a variety of topics, including the Vietnam War and conscription. In 1965 some of these columns were collected in Images in Aspic, the same year that Clift's script for Johnston's My Brother Jack was produced for television.

In the late 1960s Clift continued to write her columns and attempted to pursue her own writing projects while supporting the ailing Johnston and their family. But escalating arguments and excessive drinking took their toll. In 1969, while under the influence of alcohol, Clift died suddenly after taking an overdose of sleeping pills.

Clift's personal life came to prominence again in 1994 with the publication of her first daughter's autobiography, Searching for Charmian, which detailed the experiences of Suzanne Chick's discovery of the identity of her birth mother. Chick was born in 1942 and adopted at birth only discovering at the age of 48 that Clift was her mother. Chick's book was followed in 2001 by Nadia Wheatley's biography The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift.

Clift and Johnston's older son was the poet Martin Johnston.

Most Referenced Works

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon High Valley Sydney London : Angus and Robertson , 1949 Z829434 1949 single work novel
1948 winner The Sydney Morning Herald Literary Competition Prize of 2,000 pounds.
Last amended 23 Sep 2008 16:04:58
Influence on:
The Broken Book Susan Johnson , 2004 single work novel
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