Read an excerpt from “A real inferno”: the life of Christina Stead by Brooke Allen, free from New Criterion Online.
She wrote 15 novels and several volumes of short stories. She also worked as a Hollywood scriptwriter in the 1940s, contributing to Madame Curie and the John Ford/John Wayne war movie, They Were Expendable.
Her first novel, Seven Poor Men of Sydney (1934) dealt with the lives of radicals and dockworkers, but she was not a practitioner of social realism.
Her best-known novel, The Man Who Loved Children was based on her own childhood, the title is ironic, and was published in 1940. It was not until the poet Randall Jarrell wrote the introduction for a new American edition in 1965 that the novel began to receive a larger audience. Letty Fox: Her Luck, often regarded as an equally fine novel, was officially banned in Australia for several years because the book was considered amoral and salacious.
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