Jean Devanny Biography
(1894–1962), The Butcher's Shop, Lenore Divine, Old Savage and Other Stories, Riven, Bushman Burke
New Zealand and Australian novelist, born Jane Crook in Ferntown, Nelson, the daughter of a miner; she left school at the age of 13. At 17 she married the militant miner and unionist Hal Devanny. Her first novel, The Butcher's Shop (1926), which dramatizes in romantic mode the argument for women's right to sexual autonomy, was banned in Australia and New Zealand for its sexual politics and its explicit descriptions of animal husbandry on a New Zealand farm. Devanny's subsequent fiction, with New Zealand settings, includes Lenore Divine (1926), Old Savage and Other Stories (1927), Riven (1929), and Bushman Burke (1930); after her move to Sydney in 1929 she produced several realist, Australian novels. Experience of the Depression in Australia stimulated Devanny's political activities and she became a member of the Australian Communist Party, although she often clashed with it on questions concerning women and cultural policy. Such themes are treated in her novels Sugar Heaven (1936) and Cindie (1949), which examined the plight of sugarcane workers in Queensland, and in her posthumously published autobiography Point of Departure (1986).