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The Fellowship of Australian Writers (WA) from 1938 to 1980 and its role in the cultural life of Perth.

Kotai-Ewers, Patricia (2013) The Fellowship of Australian Writers (WA) from 1938 to 1980 and its role in the cultural life of Perth. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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By the mid-1930s, a group of distinctly Western Australian writers was emerging, dedicated to their own writing careers and the promotion of Australian literature. In 1938, they founded the Western Australian Section of the Fellowship of Australian Writers. This first detailed study of the activities of the Fellowship in Western Australia explores its contribution to the development of Australian literature in this State between 1938 and 1980. In particular, this analysis identifies the degree to which the Fellowship supported and encouraged individual writers, promoted and celebrated Australian writers and their works, through publications, readings, talks and other activities, and assesses the success of its advocacy for writers’ professional interests.

Information came from the organisation’s archives for this period; the personal papers, biographies, autobiographies and writings of writers involved; general histories of Australian literature and cultural life; and interviews with current members of the Fellowship in Western Australia. These sources showed the early writers utilising the networks they developed within a small, isolated society to build a creative community, which welcomed artists and musicians as well as writers. The Fellowship lobbied for a wide raft of conditions that concerned writers, including free children’s libraries, better rates of payment and the establishment of the Australian Society of Authors. It organised Children’s Book Weeks, and began the Children’s Book Council in Perth. It formed branches in five country towns, arranged Writers’ Weeks in early Perth Festivals, and conducted writers’ tours to country schools. By 1980, the Fellowship had prepared five anthologies of Western Australian writing and initiated two national literary competitions.

As the story of the Fellowship in these years is also the story of Perth’s cultural life, in a time of extensive change, this account of Western Australia’s writers is set within the framework of the State’s growing artistic world.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Layman, Lenore and De Garis, Brian
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