'Elizabeth Jolley is one of Australia's most significant writers: she published some two dozen books of fiction, essays and radio dramas, won every major Australian literary award, received four honorary doctorates, was awarded the Order of Australia for service to Australian Literature in 1988, and was named an Australian 'National Living Treasure' in 1997.
Her career has its roots in the UK, the place of her birth, schooling and early marriage. In 1959 she travelled with her three children and her husband to Perth, Western Australia, where Leonard Jolley took up a position as foundation Librarian of the University of Western Australia. She brought with her a trunk full of unpublished/rejected manuscripts which provided the initial materials from which she developed her published fictions and essays in Australia.
This article explores the institutional frameworks in Australia which enabled Jolley - a constant writer from childhood - to develop, in David Carter's phrase, 'a career in writing' from the mid-1970s onwards. It argues that Jolley rewrote her foundation manuscripts (written in another country) both to imagine Australian lives and to conform to Australian publishers' requirements. In doing so, it traces how the fiction and essays translate the experience of migration/exile, often thematised through the recurrent image of being 'on the edge,' into the particular and powerful ethic of love that informs Jolley's writing.' (Author's abstract)