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y separately published work icon Peel Me a Lotus single work   autobiography   humour  
Issue Details: First known date: 1959... 1959 Peel Me a Lotus
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Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • London,
      United Kingdom (UK),
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Hutchinson ,
      1959 .
      Extent: 196p.
      Description: illus.
      • Illustrated by Nancy Dingan.
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Collins , 1969 .
      Extent: 196p.
      Description: illus.
      Reprinted: 1988 with ISBN 0732224756 (pbk.)
      • Illustrated by Nancy Dignan.
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Flamingo , 1987 .
      Extent: 196p.
      Description: illus.
      • Illustrated by Nancy Dignan
      ISBN: 0006542514
    • Pymble, Turramurra - Pymble - St Ives area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: Angus and Robertson , 1989 .
      Extent: 196p.
      Description: illus.
      Reprinted: 1992
      ISBN: 0207166714 (pbk.)
  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Mermaid Singing [and] Peel Me a Lotus Charmian Clift , Pymble : HarperCollins Australia , 2001 Z895247 2001 selected work novel

    'For Charmian Clift, Greece was the Promised Land. In 1954 she and her husband, George Johnston, abandoned their sophisticated London existence and set off with two new typewriters and two small children to start a new life.

    'In Mermaid Singing - written during the first miraculous year of discovery - she records the family's adaptation to the primitive sponge-diving island of Kalymnos.

    'Peel Me a Lotus continues the exploration as Clift and Johnson buy a house on the island of Hydra, in the middle of the summer tourist trail. Clift's writing about Greece was undervalued at the time of first publication, because she wrote from a women's point of view and recorded the intimate details of daily life. It is exactly this quality which enables this classic to appeal to a new generation of readers.' (Publication summary)

    Pymble : HarperCollins Australia , 2001

Works about this Work

I Love Reading New Books but I Find Equal Joy in Rediscovering Old Friends – or Frenemies Paul Daley , 2021 single work column
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 23 June 2021;

'One new friend is Charmian Clift’s Mermaid Singing, a memoir of trauma and self-discovery and a reminder of what could have been.'

Island Odyssey Revisited Julian Tompkin , 2021 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 15 May 2021; (p. 4)
Charmian Clift, Brenda Chamberlain, and the Dichotomous Freedom of Hydra Paul Genoni , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 19 no. 1 2019;

'This essay draws a comparison between two published memoirs of participants, both of them women writers, in the Hydra expatriate community of the 1950s and ’60s: Australian Charmian Clift’s Peel Me a Lotus, and Welsh artist and writer Brenda Chamberlain’s A Rope of Vines. As memoirs of female experience on Hydra the two texts have elements in common, but the contrasts are also stark. Whereas Clift focused on family life, the bucolic harbourside agora and the boisterous life of the taverns and kafenia, Chamberlain represented herself as being alone and declared, ‘the port and the people on it do not interest me.’ For Chamberlain, the dockside was a place of ‘unreal glamour’ that deadened her creative spirit as surely as it deflected Hydra’s international visitors from understanding the true nature of the island they superficially embraced.

'This essay discusses both Clift’s and Chamberlain’s responses to Hydra, examining how despite the differences in their memoirs, both writers can be seen to be working at a resolution of the conflicting aspects of Hydra the town and Hydra the island, as each woman struggles in her own way to realise the promise of ‘freedom.' (Publication abstract)

An Expatriated Adventurer : Charmian Clift and the Utopian Possibility Susan Carson , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 19 no. 1 2019;

'For 20 years Charmian Clift wrote fiction and non-fiction from locations in Australia, England and Greece. When she returned to Australia from Greece in 1964, she explored new career opportunities in newspapers and television. Throughout this long period of publication Clift worked on an autobiographical fiction that she hoped to publish when time permitted. This paper examines the dimensions of a utopian spirit that supported Clift’s journey across countries and genres in search of an authorial self in which she felt most ‘at home. Travel memoir, journalism and fiction, as well as extracts from Clift’s unfinished autobiographical work ‘The End of the Morning,’ are examined to describe her engagement with utopian principles as a way of achieving, through writing, social change and personal fulfilment.' (Publication abstract)

Three Ways of Looking at Kalymnos : Charmian Clift’s Differing Versions of One Greek Island Shilo Previti , Jamie Walters , David Roessel , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 19 no. 1 2019;
'In 1951, married Australian writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, feeling stifled by postwar conservatism, left Sydney behind to find a more ‘authentic’ way of living. They went first to London, the mecca for Australian literary expatriates, where there was no shortage of work and culture, but where they quickly felt trapped by the ‘rat-race’ mentality of a modern city. So in 1954 they left again, this time for the Greek islands, disposing of material possessions and cutting many of their personal ties. Hoping for a permanent shift from mundane to romantic, they embraced the shining ideals offered by Greek island life: other-worldly beauty; ‘simple’ Greek lifestyles, and freedom from the many pressures of the ‘real’ world.' (Introduction)
Revisiting the Worlds of Charmian Clift Ian McFarlane , 1992 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 4 July 1992; (p. C9)

— Review of Peel Me a Lotus Charmian Clift , 1959 single work autobiography ; Honour's Mimic Charmian Clift , 1964 single work novel ; Mermaid Singing Charmian Clift , 1956 single work autobiography ; The Sponge Divers Charmian Clift , George Johnston , 1955 single work novel ; Images in Aspic Charmian Clift , 1965 selected work prose
Untitled Douglas Jerry , 1960 single work review
— Appears in: The Observer , 16 April vol. 3 no. 8 1960; (p. 27)

— Review of Peel Me a Lotus Charmian Clift , 1959 single work autobiography
Untitled Kurt Titze , 1960 single work review
— Appears in: Salient , vol. 1 no. 4 1960; (p. 30-31)

— Review of Peel Me a Lotus Charmian Clift , 1959 single work autobiography
Regionalia James Place , 1970 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , February vol. 9 no. 4 1970; (p. 96-97)

— Review of Peel Me a Lotus Charmian Clift , 1959 single work autobiography
Untitled Kevin Childs , 1970 single work review
— Appears in: The Age , 17 January 1970; (p. 10)

— Review of Peel Me a Lotus Charmian Clift , 1959 single work autobiography
Charmain Clift Kay Saunders , 2011 single work biography
— Appears in: Notorious Australian Women 2011; (p. 232-245)
George Johnston's Anzac : The Role of Sidney Nolan and Peter Finch Barry Smith , 1977 single work criticism
— Appears in: Quadrant , June vol. 21 no. 6 1977; (p. 66-69)
Paradise, and Yet : The Writings of Cynthia Reed Nolan M. E. McGuire , 1988 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Age Monthly Review , April vol. 8 no. 1 1988; (p. 3-6)
Loving Europe : Peel Me a Lotus and Australian Women Writing Travel Susan Carson , 2013 single work criticism
— Appears in: Telling Stories : Australian Life and Literature 1935–2012 2013; (p. 217-224)
Charmain Clift and George Johnston, Hydra 1960 : The 'Lost' Photographs of James Burke Paul Genoni , Tanya Dalziell , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Meanjin , vol. 73 no. 1 2014; (p. 18-37)

'In one of her many essays, Charmian Clift writes of the melancholic experience of feeling like a photograph. She has been asked to address a group of students at Wollongong High School, a school she had attended, and in preparing her speech she turns to a photograph that appears in the school's fiftieth-anniversary commemorative booklet. The photograph depicts a class from Clift's time at the school, 'formally posed with the boys lined up behind the girls and their hands resting on the girls' shoulders' ('On Turning slightly Sepia', p. 48 (see References below)), and as photographs do it evokes in Clift's memory small details that are not evidenced in the image itself: 'I can still see one of those girls arched in a perfect swallow dive, and remember precisely a collar of little pearl buttons on a blue crepe dress that another of them wore to an end-of-term dance that year'(48). The photograph also prompts Clift to consider how different her teenage circumstances were from those of the students she is to speak to, their faces shining with the confidence that faith in the goodness of the future affords. Before those faces now momentarily turned to her, she thinks of herself as the past, and wonders, 'if they realized that standing up before them I knew myself to be curling at the edges and turning slightly sepia' (51).' (Publication abstract)

Last amended 3 Mar 2004 12:12:46