A friendship in letters: The correspondence of Judith Wright and Barbara Blackman

Susan Sheridan

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The exchange of letters between the poet Judith Wright and essayist Barbara Blackman extended over 50 years until Wright's death in 2000. It is recorded in a selection of over 300 letters, edited by Bryony Cosgrove, in Portrait of a Friendship (2007). Their correspondence has come to signify their friendship, especially because their circumstances meant that the two women rarely met face to face. The letters are rich with references to the public worlds of art and writing in which they participated (Barbara was married to the eminent painter Charles Blackman), as well as to the domestic terrain that was intensively inhabited by women in the years after the Second World War. Both were cultural activists as well, but while they shared a commitment to the conservation of the natural environment and to Aboriginal culture, Judith threw her energies into political campaigns for conservation and for Aboriginal rights, while Barbara inclined more to Jungian-inspired quietism and educative projects. Their correspondence is unique in that the two creative women were also living with significant physical disabilities: Barbara was blind and Judith deaf. For this reason, their letters prompt reflections on the capacities of certain technologies and social forms of epistolary communication.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)203-217
    Number of pages15
    JournalLife Writing
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


    • Australian literature
    • correspondence
    • postwar culture
    • women's friendship


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