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Jean Curlewis Jean Curlewis i(A1489 works by) (birth name: Ethel Jean Sophia Curlewis) (a.k.a. Jean Charlton; Mrs Leonard Charlton)
Born: Established: 7 Feb 1898 Mosman, Cremorne - Mosman - Northbridge area, Sydney Northeastern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 28 Mar 1930 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
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The daughter of Ethel Turner (q.v.), Jean Curlewis was educated at Sydney Church of England Girls' Grammar School. In addition to writing poems and stories, Curlewis also published four novels which appeared under the Ward Lock imprint: The Ship that Never Set Sail (1921), Drowning Maze (1922), Beach Beyond (1923) and The Dawn Man (1924). Although these works were produced 'in identical format to the novels of Ethel and Lilian Turner' (q.v.), Curlewis' 'talent ... was quite unlike that of her mother and aunt. Instead of domestic comedy and stories of love and marriage', she 'wrote adventure stories with a strong sense of place. Yet, while they evoke the Sydney of sun and surf beaches, they are essentially novels of ideas.' Curlewis 'was not at ease with the happy ending of most children's fiction: her characters accept compromise or defeat as the price of adulthood.'

When Curlewis 'married Percie Leonard Charlton, medical practitioner, on 23 October 1923 at St Luke's Anglican Church, Mosman, her health was already causing concern. After two years in Europe where Charlton did postgraduate work, she returned to Sydney looking "fragile and sad". Soon afterwards she was found to have tuberculosis. She died in Sydney on 28 March 1930, her promise as poet and novelist unfulfilled.'

In addition to poetry and fiction, Curlewis also wrote Verse Writing for Beginners (1925) and contributed the text to a number of booklets published by Art in Australia: Sydney Harbour (1928), Australia Beautiful: Sydney Number [1928], Sydney Surfing (1929) and The Sydney Book (1931).

(Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography Online)

Most Referenced Works


  • The March 1926 issue of The Home: An Australian Quarterly introduced a new column entitled 'The Clearing House'. Edited by Jean Curlewis, the column invited input from 'Australian town and country women' so that they might 'discuss the various important problems of their lives'. The journal proposed that it provide a forum for women - 'a clearing house of ideas' - whereby its pages should provide 'a debating club where the women of Australia can discuss their problems - not only the problems of the home, but of their towns, their schools, their clubs'. Suggested 'Themes for Discussion' included such topics as 'How Could We Develop the Community Idea in Australia', 'What Is a Home' and 'Big Shops versus Little Shops'. (pp. 16-18)
  • ACB(1) states that the author's first given name was Edith (not Ethel), but this is not correct. (Source: Marcie Muir and Kerry White Australian Children's Books, 1992-2004)
  • Some sources incorrectly list year of birth as 1899.
  • See also the full Australian Dictionary of Biography Online entry for Ethel Jean Sophia Curlewis, (1898-1930).
Last amended 24 Oct 2012 11:20:17
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