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Betty Roland Betty Roland i(A30466 works by) (birth name: Mary Isabel McLean) (a.k.a. Mary Isabel Maclean; Mary Isabel Davies)
Also writes as: Betty M. Davies
Born: Established: 22 Jul 1903 Kaniva, Edenhope - Kaniva area, Charlton - Donald - Birchip - Woomelang area, North West Victoria, Victoria, ; Died: Ceased: 12 Feb 1996 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
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Betty McLean left school at sixteen to pursue a career in journalism and worked for at both Table Talk and Sun News-Pictorial. In 1923 she married Ellis Harvey Davies and over the next ten years wrote a number of works under the name Betty M. Davies. One of her best known works, and also her first play, was The Touch of Silk. Produced by the Melbourne Repertory Theatre in 1928, it was later performed by several repertory companies and published by Melbourne University Press in 1942 (under the name Betty Roland). It was revised in 1955 and published by Currency Press in 1988, demonstrating its continuing appeal. Another early play, the one act drama, Morning was written in the late 1920s but was not staged until 1932. As such it was one of the first Australian plays to be produced by the Melbourne Little Theatre. It too was credited to Betty M. Davies.

While overseas Davies adopted the personal and professional name Betty Roland. After returning from Russia in 1935, she wrote a number of political plays under her new name. These were often performed as street theatre. She also delivered talks on both the stage and on radio during the mid-1930s, with the topics including the state of theatre in Russia, and her recollections of the country and other places she visited during her time abroad.

In 1939, disillusioned with the Communist Party and separated from the well-known communist Guido Baracchi, she began writing for radio. One of her serials, A Woman Scorned (broadcast in the 1950s), was the inspiration for the television series Return to Eden (1985). She also has the distinction of scripting Australia's first talking feature film, The Spur of the Moment (1931). During the 1940s, she lived for some time at an artistic community at Montsalvat, Victoria, before working as a freelance writer in London for most of the 1950s. After returning to Australia in 1961, she wrote a number of highly regarded children's novels. She was a founding member of the Australian Society of Authors in 1963. In 1972, she was invited back to Montsalvat to write its history, published in 1984 as The Eye of the Beholder.

Roland also wrote a number of novels during the 1970s, but she is most-admired for the three volumes of autobiography that begin with Caviar for Breakfast (1979). She published the third volume, The Devious Being, in 1990. The year before she died, Roland saw one of her early plays, 'Feet of Clay' (1928), published in the selected work, Playing the Past: Three Plays by Australian Women (1995).



Most Referenced Works


  • Davies is believed to have adopted the name Betty Roland while in Europe in 1933. A photograph published in the Western Mail (Perth) on 14 September 1933 is captioned: 'Queen of the Pool: Miss Betty Roland stars in an impromptu parade at Paurville-Sur.Mer, near Dieppe, France." (p.6).

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon The Eye of the Beholder Sydney : Hale and Iremonger , 1984 Z460379 1984 single work biography Roland's recollections of Justus Jorgensen and Montsalvat colony.
1985 winner Braille Book of the Year Award
y separately published work icon Jamie's Summer Visitor London : Bodley Head , 1964 Z835354 1964 single work children's fiction children's Nola, the Sydney-living daughter of an old friend of Jamie's mother, comes to spend Christmas with them. She has never been to the country before and her lack of riding skills almost causes a disaster for Jamie.
1965 highly commended CBCA Book of the Year Awards Book of the Year Award
Jamie's Discovery London : Bodley Head , 1963 Z830624 1963 single work children's fiction children's
— Appears in: Die Verbode Brug [en] Die Grot in die Kloof 1963;
Eight-year-old Jamie's dog, Fran, goes missing and Jamie and his friend Len have almost despaired of finding her alive when, on one last search in the hills they find Fran, and something else besides.
1964 commended CBCA Book of the Year Awards Book of the Year Award

Known archival holdings

Albinski 194
National Library of Australia (ACT)
State Library of NSW (NSW)
University of Queensland University of Queensland Library (QLD)
State Library of Victoria (VIC)
Last amended 18 Feb 2019 08:51:54
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