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Elizabeth Jolley Biography

(1923–2007), Stories, Woman in a Lampshade, Palomino, The Newspaper of Claremont Street

Australian short-story writer and novelist, born in Birmingham; she went to Western Australia in 1959. After early success as a radio dramatist she published two volumes of short stories later collected in Stories (1984). In Woman in a Lampshade (1983) the stories reveal Jolley's growing interest in odd characters and disconcerting situations. Her first novel, Palomino (1980), was followed by two novels about eccentric old people: The Newspaper of Claremont Street (1981), concerning a cleaning woman known as ‘Newspaper’ for her command of gossip; and Mr Scobie's Riddle (1983), about a squalid old people's home from which Mr Scobie bravely and madly attempts to escape. Miss Peabody's Inheritance (1983) is a novel about a woman who works in an office and cares for her sick mother; her life is enhanced by letters from an Australian novelist, concerning ‘work in progress’, in whose imaginary world Miss Peabody lives. Sugar Mother (1988) is a black comedy about the Virgin birth in a modern setting. Jolley's distinctive talent is for a world of outwardly reassuring normality in which disturbingly powerful conflicts of morality and social relations surface to challenge the comfortable complacencies of both the individual and the community. Other novels include Milk and Honey (1984), Foxybaby (1985), The Well (1986), My Father's Moon (1989), and Cabin Fever (1990).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Tama Janowitz Biography to P(atrick) J(oseph Gregory) Kavanagh Biography