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Shirley Hazzard Biography

(1931– ), New Yorker, Cliffs of Fall and Other Stories

united woman nations love

Australian writer, born and educated in Sydney. Since leaving Australia at the age of 16 she has travelled to Hong Kong, New Zealand, Europe, and America. She married Francis Steegmuller, became an American citizen, and divides her time between the USA and Italy. In 1976 she wrote an influential account of Australia for the New Yorker, for which she had also written short stories, later collected in Cliffs of Fall and Other Stories (1963). Having worked with the United Nations (195262) she became a vocal opponent of that institution, about which she wrote in Defeat of an Ideal: A Study of the Self-Destruction of the United Nations (1973) and Countenance the Truth: The United Nations and the Waldheim Case (1990), and in People In Glass Houses (1967), a sharply satirical novel, analysing life within the UN walls. The Evening of the Holiday (1966), set in Florence, is about the love of a young Anglo-Italian woman for an older Italian architect. The Bay of Noon (1970) is narrated by a woman who fled to Naples to escape a triangular relationship, only there to be drawn into a similar situation. Her highly acclaimed The Transit of Venus (1980) is a romantic novel concerning a young Australian woman who travels to England with her sister, her entanglement with a feckless Englishman, and her rescue from despair by a middle-aged American. Hazzard's writings are mostly a sensitive exploration of the infinite aspirations, manifestations, and memories of human love. A finely wrought simplicity of style and structure lends her work unusual powers of evocation and analysis.

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