Part II :1938-39 establishes the friendship of Cusack and Franklin which develops during their collaboration on the scandalous sesqui-centennial satire Pioneers on Parade. In Part III:1945-47, Cusack and James, both burnt out at the end of WWII, set up a writing retreat in the Blue Mountains and collaborate on their prizewinning bestseller expose of wartime Sydney, Come In Spinner.
In Part IV: 1947-49, James returns to London and Cusack follows through the revisions demanded by the Daily Telegraph before they will award the thousand pounds prize money. Cusack is also researching her "tuberculosis novel" Say No To Death. All That Swagger is published by Angus & Robertson whilst Franklin endures her nephew's war neurosis and makes her final Will, providing for an annual [Miles] Franklin Award. In mid-1949 Cusack leaves for Europe.
In Part V:1950-55 the Cusack-Franklin-James friendships are now essentially carried through their correspondence; Come In Spinner is published to press acclaim in London, with Cusack's Say No To Death, Southern Steel and Caddie following in quick succession. Angus & Robertson finally began publishing the "Brent of Bin Bin" series. James, now divorced, rearing two daughters, begins work with London publisher Constable & Co as a reader and talent scout for Australian writers. Franklin and Cusack's friendship provides the emotional fulcrum for this final Part.
The Chronology (1879-2001) provides the facts of the lives and works; the Biographical Notes provide an inventory of most of the cast of characters who appear in the letters.
For my mother
Evadne Joyce (Checklin) North
and David Richard Warring
sine qua non
In memory of Jim McGrath
"A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."
'There are many ways to read as rich and detailed a book as Marilla North’s Yarn Spinners: A Story of Friendship, Politics and a Shared Commitment to a Distinctive Australian Literature, Woven through the Letters of Dymphna Cusack, Florence James, Miles Franklin and their Congenials, an updated and substantial reworking of Yarn Spinners: A Story in Letters – Dymphna Cusack, Florence James, Miles Franklin (2001). North herself suggests one approach when, in an online interview, she describes how she developed the earlier collection of selected correspondence among three mid-20th-century Australian literatae into a more complex “hybrid text” or “biographical narrative” involving a good deal of “detective work” to fill in chronological gaps among the letters. As a result, you may start the book on the opening page, as you would a novel, and follow the three “politically active” eponymous characters as, on either side of World War II, they negotiate their way through several decades of ups and downs with one another, publishers, family members, assorted friends and rival writers, government bureaucrats and a host of other figures in their determination to play a part in creating and defending “an authentic and truly Australian literature” (17).' (Introduction)
'The long subtitle of Marilla North’s entertaining revision of her book Yarn Spinners (first published in 2001) declares this to be 'A story of friendship, politics and a shared commitment to a distinctive Australian literature, woven through the letters of Dymphna Cusack, Florence James, Miles Franklin and their congenials'.' (Introduction)
'Yarn Spinners was first published by the University of Queensland Press in 2001 with the much shorter subtitle of ' A Story of Letters'. Coming after over a decade of increased attention to the lives and work of Austrlai's earlier women writers, thanks to the impact of femenist literary history and criticism, it was perhaps less necessary then to spell out just what the story was about. In epilogue Marilla North noted some ofthe fruits of the revival of interest in cusack work. Her play Morning Sacrifice (1943) was about to be produced by the Sydney Theatre Company and there was to be a reprint of her novel Say No to Death (1951). During the 1988 Bicentenary there had been reprints of the novels she wrote with Miles Franklin, Pioneers on Parade (1939), and Florence James, Come in Spinner (1951). Many of the letters in Yarn Spinners relate to the writing and publication of these two jointly- authored works. Today, while some of Cusack's novels can be ordered from Allen and Unwin as print on demand titles, they are not readliy available in bookshops, and she has been largley forgotten again.' (Introduction)