Jill Roe, 18 February 1988
Sydney, February 1938. Miles Franklin, aged 58, attends a sesquicentenary celebration at Government House for ‘distinguished women’. The legendary author of My Brilliant Career (1901) has every right to be there. Now back in Australia after nearly three decades of being away, the enfant terrible of Federation days has restored her name with a splendid pastoral saga, All that swagger (1936). She sits on the edge of a lily pond with the younger writer Dymphna Cusack, eating soggy sandwiches and drinking warm lemonade. February is often the hottest month in Sydney. The two exchange views on what Miles called the survival of the ‘garrison mind’ in a young country. The result was Pioneers on Parade, published by Angus and Robertson in 1939, a spoof on the sesquicentenary. Miles Franklin, where are you now?