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Henry Handel Richardson (born Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson) Biography

(1870–1946), (born Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson), Maurice Guest, Rhapsody, The Getting of Wisdom

Australian novelist, born in Melbourne. In 1888, accompanied by her mother and sister, she travelled to Europe and studied music at the Leipzig Conservatorium. In Germany she read widely in European literature and also met her future husband, J. G. Robertson, who later became Professor of German Literature at the University of London. She settled in London in 1903. Her first novel, Maurice Guest (1908), concerning a young musician studying in Leipzig who is finally destroyed by his obsessive love for a selfish woman, was favourably received by the critics and by Somerset Maugham; it was made into a film, Rhapsody (1954), starring Elizabeth Taylor. The Getting of Wisdom (1910) is based on Richardson's own experiences as a pupil at a Melbourne boarding school. For the next twenty years she devoted herself to writing the trilogy The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (1930) which consists of Australia Felix (1917), The Way Home (1925), and Ultima Thule (1929); the trilogy chronicles the rise to prosperity and subsequent ruination and disgrace of its central character, who is modelled on Richardson's father. It is widely regarded as one of the major works of Australian literature, exploring themes of personal and cultural alienation and offering a complex and detailed picture of late nineteenth-century colonial life. Her other works include Young Cosima (1939), a novel about Cosima von Bulow and Richard Wagner; and Two Studies (1931) and The End of Childhood (1934), both collections of short stories. Myself when Young (1948), an unfinished autobiography, and The Adventures of Cuffy Mahony (1979), a collection of previously unpublished short fiction, appeared posthumously. Ulysses Bound (1973), by Dorothy Green, is a study of her life and work.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: John Rhode to Jack [Morris] Rosenthal Biography