Jolley, Elizabeth

▪ 2008
Monica Elizabeth Knight 
      British-born Australian novelist and short-story writer

born June 4, 1923 , Birmingham, Eng.

died Feb. 13, 2007 , Perth, Australia
crafted dryly comic fiction filled with eccentric characters, especially women, lovingly portrayed. Jolley was raised in a German-speaking household in England. She moved to Perth in 1959 when her husband became a librarian at the University of Western Australia, and her work often contrasts a stagnant Europe and a brash, vital Australia. She began writing her first novel, Palomino, in the late 1950s, but because publishers were wary of the story (which concerns a lesbian relationship between a 60-year-old doctor and a much younger woman pregnant with her own brother's child), it was not printed until 1980. Five Acre Virgin, the first of several short-story collections, came out in 1976. Jolley won numerous awards, including the The Age newspaper's Book of the Year Award three times—for Mr. Scobie's Riddle (1983), My Father's Moon (1989), and The Georges' Wife (1993). Her other novels included The Newspaper of Claremont Street (1981), Miss Peabody's Inheritance (1983), The Well (1986; filmed 1997), Lovesong (1997), and An Innocent Gentleman (2001). She also wrote radio plays, notably a dramatization of her short story “Woman in a Lampshade.” Jolley was awarded the Order of Australia in 1988 and was named a National Living Treasure in 1997.

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▪ Australian author
original name in full  Monica Elizabeth Knight  
born June 4, 1923, Birmingham, Eng.
died Feb. 13, 2007, Perth, Austl.

      British-born Australian novelist and short-story writer whose dryly comic work features eccentric characters and examines relationships between women.

      Jolley was raised in a German-speaking household in England. She moved from England to Australia in 1959, and her work often features contrasts between a stagnant Europe and a brash, vital Australia. She began writing her first novel, Palomino, in the late 1950s, but because publishers were wary of the story, which concerns a lesbian relationship between a 60-year-old doctor and a much younger woman pregnant with her own brother's child, it was not printed until 1980. The Newspaper of Claremont Street (1981) was praised for its humour and sombre insight into the characters' psychopathology.

      The publication of her third and fourth novels earned Jolley admiration outside Australia for her effortless comic style and deft storytelling. In Mr. Scobie's Riddle (1983), set in a nursing home, outcast patients come to terms with their own alienation and imminent death. Miss Peabody's Inheritance (1983), considered Jolley's funniest book, explores her two favourite themes: love between women and the contrast between the Old World and the New. Jolley's later novels include Foxybaby (1985), The Well (1986; filmed 1997), The Sugar Mother (1988), My Father's Moon (1989), and The Georges' Wife (1993).

      Jolley wrote several radio plays that were broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, including a dramatization of her short story "Woman in a Lampshade." The 1983 collection of the same name, although considered uneven, was praised for its innovative writing.

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Universalium. 2010.

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