Harrower Elizabeth Death | Obituary -The Australian novelist he Australian novelist peacefully passed away at the age of 68, lives in Sydney, has been decidedly opaque about why she withdrew her fifth novel, “In Certain Circles” (Text), some months prior to publication, in 1971. Her mother, to whom she was very close, had died suddenly the year before.
Harrower told Susan Wyndham, who interviewed her a few months ago in the Sydney Morning Herald, that she was absolutely “frozen” by the bereavement. She also claims to remember very little about her novel—“That sounds quite interesting, but I don’t think I’ll read it”—and adds that she has been “very good at closing doors and ending things.
What was going on in my head or my life at the time? Fortunately, whatever it was I’ve forgotten.” Elsewhere, Harrower has cast doubt on the novel’s quality: “It was well written because once you can write, you can write a good book. But there are a lot of dead novels out in the world that doesn’t need to be written.”
Harrower deposited the manuscript of “In Certain Circles” in the National Library of Australia and essentially terminated her literary career. She has said that she thinks of her fiction as something abandoned long ago, buried in a cellar. She can’t now be bothered with writing. “I don’t know anybody who knows I’m a writer,” she said in 2012. In 1971, plenty of people knew Harrower was a writer.
The novelist Christina Stead, for one, declared that Harrower’s “The Long Prospect” (1958) “has no equal in our writing.” But obscurity is a fast worker when properly paid: by the early nineteen-nineties, all her novels were out of print. Patrick White, who urged Harrower to keep working, once inscribed a book to her with the injunction “To Elizabeth, launcher, and diner extraordinaire.
We express our sympathy and deepest condolences to Elizabeth’s family today and in the days, weeks, months, and years that are to come as they cope with his passing.
The most fleeting of death notices in the @smh for the enigmatic author: “Harrower, Elizabeth 1928-2020 The writer passed away peacefully on Tuesday. Private cremation, no funeral service” it read.
Rediscovering Elizabeth Harrower | The New Yorker https://t.co/NW9DTGIpkh
— Kate McClymont (@Kate_McClymont) July 11, 2020