No. 17 – Most Popular Aussie Novels of All Time
by Clayton Wehner - December 8th, 2010
26.3% of all respondents have read this book
Synopsis for My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin
The heroine, Sybylla Melvyn, is an imaginative, headstrong girl growing up in rural Australia in the 1890s. Drought and a series of poor business decisions reduce her family to subsistence level, her father begins to drink excessively, and Sybylla struggles to deal with the monotony of her life. To her relief, she is sent to live on her grandmother’s property, where life is more comfortable. There she meets wealthy young Harry Beecham, who loves her and proposes marriage; convinced of her ugliness and aware of her tomboyish ways, Sybylla is unable to believe that he could really love her. By this time, her father’s drinking has got the family into debt, and she is sent to work as governess/housekeeper for the family of an almost illiterate neighbour to whom her father owes money. She finds life there unbearable and eventually suffers a physical breakdown which leads to her return to the family home. When Harry Beecham returns to ask Sybylla to marry him, she concludes that she would only make him unhappy and sends him away, determined never to marry. The novel ends with no suggestion that she will ever have the “brilliant career” as a writer that she desires.
About Miles Franklin (Books by Miles Franklin…)
Miles Franklin (born “Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin”; 14 October 1879 – 19 September 1954) was an Australian writer and feminist who is best known for her autobiographical novel, My Brilliant Career, published in 1901. While she wrote throughout her life, her other major literary success, All That Swagger, was not published until 1936.
Franklin was committed to the development of a uniquely Australian form of literature, and she actively pursued this goal by supporting writers, literary journals, and writers’ organisations. She has had a long-lasting impact on Australian literary life through her endowment of a major literary award known as the Miles Franklin Award.
Franklin was born at Talbingo, New South Wales, and grew up in the Brindabella Valley. She was the eldest child of Australian-born parents, John Maurice Franklin and Susannah Margaret Eleanor Franklin, née Lampe Her family was a member of the squattocracy.
After the publication of My Brilliant Career, Franklin tried a career in nursing, and then as a housemaid in Sydney and Melbourne. Whilst doing this she contributed pieces to The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald under the pseudonyms “An Old Bachelor” and “Vernacular.” During this period she wrote My Career Goes Bung in which Sybylla encounters the Sydney literary set. The book proved too hot to publish and did not become available to the public until 1946.
The List so far…
#19 – My Place by Sally Morgan
#22 – Dirt Music by Tim Winton
#23 – Breath by Tim Winton