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Florence James Florence James i(A870 works by) (a.k.a. Florence Heyting; Florence Gertrude James)
Born: Established: 2 Sep 1902 Gisborne, East Cape, North Island,
c
New Zealand,
c
Pacific Region,
; Died: Ceased: 25 Aug 1993 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
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BiographyHistory

Florence James graduated from the University of Sydney in 1926, winning the University Medal for her honours thesis. During her years at university, James met Dymphna Cusack and the two women performed together in the dramatic society. James worked as a journalist in London during the 1930s, sharing a room with Christina Stead for a time. She married William John 'Pym' Heyting in London in 1932. In 1938 James returned to Sydney.

James and Cusack lived for a time in a cottage in the Blue Mountains in 1945, where they collaborated on Four Winds and a Family and Come in Spinner. In 1947, James left for London to pursue a publishing career. She established a solid reputation as a critic, reviewer and editor. James returned to Australia in 1963 and, in that year, became one of the first members of the fledgling Australian Society of Authors.

As a Quaker, James was known for her strong commitment to the cause of pacifism. During the 1960s, she spent several weeks in London's Holloway Prison following her arrest for activities with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

(Major source: 'No Surrender for This Spinner of Earthly Tales', The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 August 1993, p.17)

Most Referenced Works

Notes

  • Many sources stipulate 1904 as the year of Florence James' birth. (It is the year given in The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, 2nd ed. 1994, and it appeared in Contributors Notes in periodicals and anthologies.) However, James' obituary in The Sydney Morning Herald (27 August, 1993, p.17) states that James was 'born in New Zealand on September 2, 1902'. The year 1902 is also confirmed by an announcement in The Bulletin during 1992 (22 September, p.12) relating to a celebration in honour of James' 90th birthday.

Awards for Works

Yarn Spinners : A Story in Letters : Dymphna Cusack, Florence James, Miles Franklin 2001 anthology correspondence biography From the correspondence between Cusack, James and Franklin across the years 1928 to the death of Franklin in 1954, Yarn Spinners: A Story in Letters has been shaped by a process of selection, editing, weaving and providing narrative links in order to develop a continuous narrative of the friendship, collaborations and inter-related lives of these three Australian women writers. The Prologue gives a biographical overview of each of their lives. Each of the five narrative Parts is briefly prefaced with its socio-historical context.

Part I:1928-1935 sets up the Cusack-James relationship as they write to each other as young women graduates: Cusack is teaching in remote rural NSW schools whilst James does the Grand Tour of Europe, finally settling down in London where she marries in 1933.

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.

2001 winner The Fellowship of Australian Writers Victoria Inc. National Literary Awards FAW Christina Stead Award Awarded to editor Marilla North.
Come in Spinner 1951 single work novel The action revolves largely around the Hotel South Pacific where the girls and the 'occupying' American troops meet in the vestibule, while upstairs in the Marie Antionette beauty salon the attendants Deb, Guinea and Claire, each with her own complicated romantic entanglement, work long hours to disguise the shortcomings of their rich, fat clientele. A book sharply observant of the new era ushered in by WWII.
1945-1946 winner The Daily Telegraph Novel Competition
Last amended 6 May 2010 13:44:34
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