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News & Events

January Newsletter

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October Newsletter

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July Newsletter

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May Newsletter

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Celebrate HHR at the National Trust Heritage Festival in Chiltern
- April 16, 2016

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February Newsletter

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Two Studies: Henry Handel Richardson and The Great Extractor

by Rachel Solomon

In November 1931, the newly celebrated Australian author Henry Handel Richardson (1870–1946), was approached by Dr. Jacob Schwartz (b.1899) of the Ulysses Bookshop,1 to publish some of her short stories in fine, limited edition booklets. In December the same year, Two Studies was published by the Ulysses Press. The following is an examination of the history of this fine print publication, and the relationship between the author and the publisher, within the context of the literary and publishing market of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Read more...

This article first appeared in _Script & Print: Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and NZ_ 38.4 (2014), and is reproduced here by permission.

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November Newsletter

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Rex Fuge Eulogy by Bill Steele

Read the eulogy delivered by incoming Vice-president, Bill Steele, at Rex Fuge's funeral service

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Henry Handel Richardson Society AGM

When: January 3rd, 2015
Where: Lake View, Chiltern
Time: 5.00pm

The AGM will be followed by the 45th HHR Birthday Picnic Tea

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Henry Handel Richardson Society Award Presentation
Short Story by Helen Garner

Wheeler Centre, 9 November 2014
© Helen Garner

Read the speech given by our judge Helen Garner at this years award announcements.

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Vale - Rex Fuge OAM

Members will be saddened to hear of the sudden death of our founding President, Rex Fuge OAM. Rex passed away suddenly at his Chiltern home on Saturday September 6. His contribution to Chiltern's recognition of HHR's brief but important sojourn in that town was massive. His contribution to the recognition of Chiltern's history and its people generally was also massive. Our thoughts are with his family, particularly his wife Mary, at this sad time.

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Writing Competition 2014 Update August 2014

When entries for this year’s competition closed on July 31, we were delighted and somewhat amazed that well in excess of 400 entries had been received. Our inaugural writing competition in 2012 received around 70 entries.

Preliminary judging is now under way and will result in a short-list being handed on to Helen Garner who will make the final decision on our prize winners. What a job for all our judges.

Please note that the winners will be announced and presented with their prizes at a function to be held at the Wheeler Centre on Sunday afternoon November 9. Keep the date free if you can. There will be more information on our website about this event as it draws nearer.

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June Newsletter

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Henry Handel Richardson Writing Competition 2014

To celebrate Richardson and her work the Henry Handel Richardson Society of Australia launches the 2014 Writing Competition, sponsored by Text Publishing.

Entries close on 31 July 2014, guidelines and entry form can be found under 2014 Writing Competition...

Henry Handel Richardson
Henry Handel Richardson, born Ethel Richardson, is one of Australia’s first internationally recognised writers. She is most well known for her works The Getting of Wisdom and the trilogy, The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, voted second of 209 novels in the Favourite Australian Novel Poll conducted by the Australian Book Review in 2010. In her life time (1870-1946) she produced six novels, a volume of short stories and translations of two Scandinavian novels. A volume of her autobiography, Myself when Young, and two volumes of her music were published after her death.

The Henry Handel Richardson Society of Australia
The Society was formed in January 2008, principally to celebrate and promote the writings of Richardson. Prior to the Society’s formation, the people of Chiltern,  Victoria, with the assistance of a small number of outsiders had celebrated Richardson’s birthday for 38 consecutive years. This annual celebration continues to take place on her birthday, January 3, at Lake View, the Richardson family home in Chiltern from the years 1876-7, now in the care of the National Trust. Since the Society’s inception celebratory events have also been held in the towns of Maldon and Queenscliff where Richardson also spent part of her childhood.

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Picnic Birthday Party and Oration 3 January 2014

We are delighted to announce that our patron, the internationally acclaimed film director, Bruce Beresford, and his wife, the novelist Virginia Duigan, will be coming to the birthday celebrations at Lake View, Chiltern, on Friday 3 January 2014.

At the end of November Bruce will be returning to Sydney from Los Angeles where he is currently completing a film.

Bruce will deliver the 2014 Oration at the party. His topic will be ‘Making the film The Getting of Wisdom’.

Read more...

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September Newsletter

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2012 Society Annual Oration – Friday October 12,
State Library of Victoria

This year's oration will be delivered by eminent Victoria historian and author Dr Brenda Niall AO. Brenda was awarded AO for services to Australian literature, as an academic, biographer and literary critic in 2004. Her most recent book, True North: The Story of Mary & Elizabeth Durack,  was published by Text in April this year

Her oration 'The Sharp Edge of Friendship: Henry Handel Richardson and her Biographer Nettie Palmer' will tell the story of the uneasy friendship between HHR and the Australian writer and critic Nettie Palmer. When they met at Richardson’s house in Sussex in July 1930, they already knew one another through letters. They had much in common. Educated at the same school in Melbourne, they had both travelled and studied in Europe, and were well read in French and German literature.

By 1930 Nettie Palmer was established as the most powerful promoter of Australian literature; she reviewed widely and was already a champion of Richardson’s work. But her great passion was her husband, novelist Vance Palmer, whose ever-frustrated ambition to write The Great Australian Novel dominated their long married life.

Nettie Palmer was intellectually honest and discerning enough to know that Richardson’s Fortunes of Richard Mahony would outshine anything that Vance could ever write. Yet she could not help feeling envious. On Richardson’s side, there were mixed feelings about her undoubted debt to Palmer for promoting her work; she wanted the attention but disliked feeling grateful.

Drawing on the politely formal letters between Palmer and Richardson, as well as their more relaxed letters to others, Brenda Niall will discuss this important friendship, and the ways in which its limitations impacted on Palmer’s biography of Richardson. This work, Niall believes, was inevitably flawed because of unacknowledged rivalry on one side and on the other an imperious refusal to be known.

Places for this year's oration, which will coincide with the announcement of the winning entries in our inaugural Writing Competition, are strictly limited, and quickly being filled, so if you intend being there please book your place either by writing to us at PO Box 35, Chiltern 3683 or by emailing Graeme Charles at gcharles@communityaction.coop. Cheques should be made payable to Henry Handel Richardson Society of Australia, alternatively you can direct deposit BSB 803070 Account number 77605 making sure your name appears. The $15 entry fee includes the oration and refreshments.

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Text Publishing The Fortunes of Richard Mahony joins the
Text Classics stable

Read here an edited version of Peter Craven's introduction to the book

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by Peter Craven

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100 Years after Her Last Visit,
Chiltern Continues to Celebrate the Life of Henry Handel Richardson

On January 3, 2012 for the 42nd consecutive year people gathered at 'Lake View' the childhood home in Chiltern of the famous Australian-born author Henry Handel Richardson (HHR). The gathering took the form of a picnic tea in the beautiful grounds of Lake View, and as is customary a rousing rendition of 'Happy Birthday' was sung as the birthday cake was being cut.

A highlight of this year's birthday celebration at Lake View was an address The Return of the Native: HHR in Australia again (1912) by the newly elected President of the Henry Handel Richardson Society of Australia, Clive Probyn.

January 3 is of course HHR's birth date, but this year's gathering had added significance because 2012 is the one hundredth anniversary or her one and only return visit to Australia after leaving Melbourne in 1888 with her mother and only sibling, sister Lilian, to study pianoforte at the prestigious Leipzig Conservatorium in Germany.

HHR is possibly best known these days for her coming of age novel The Getting of Wisdom, but perhaps she should be better known for her trilogy The Fortunes of Richard Mahony. After all, she was awarded the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal in 1930 for her third book of the trilogy Ultima Thule.

The celebration attracted a good number of Society members as well as non-members with an interest in HHR and her time in Chiltern. Since being formed in 2008 the Henry Handel Richardson Society of Australia has steadily increased its membership which now exceeds 200.

The birthday celebration will be held again on January 3, next year and we look forward to your company at what is always a very pleasant event.

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Henry Handel Richardson Celebration in Maldon - October 8, 2011

On October 8 this year, Maldon held its fourth celebration of the life and times of HHR, her literary works and family life, focusing on the time she spent in Maldon during the 1880's when her mother, Mary Richardson, held the position of Maldon postmistress.

Although not officially a part of the Richardson celebration, on Friday evening October 7 a number of members and others attended a wonderful Organ Recital in the Anglican Church. The Church is celebrating its sesquicentenary this year and the recital was just one of a number of events organised as part of that celebration.

After a rather stormy Friday night, Saturday October 8 turned out to be a perfect day for the event. About forty people gathered on Saturday morning for Peter Cuffley's presentation on the gardens that HHR would have been familiar with during her time in Maldon. As always, Peter gave a fascinating address which was aided by photos provided by Geoff Palmer. Peter's address was interspersed with several appropriate readings from HHR's literary works. The readings were admirably delivered by Helen McBurney, who had to step in at extremely short notice.

During the afternoon, Peter led a tour of eight selected Maldon private gardens, including the original Anglican Church Vicarage. At the Vicarage participants sat on the front steps listening to readings about events that happened there during HHR's time. The Vicarage was built in 1868 and first occupied by the Rev. J.C.T. Stretch and his family in May that year. When he retired, he was replaced by his son, the Rev. Jack Stretch. HHR wrote about the father, son and daughters in 'Myself When Young' and describes sitting on the front verandah in the evenings.

The Garden tour concluded at the Maldon Post Office, where an absolutely sumptuous afternoon tea was enjoyed by all. Thus concluded a very pleasant day in Maldon for most visitors, although a number of people were able to join together for the evening meal at the Penny School Gallery/Cafe.

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'Henry Handel Richardson in Maldon' book Wins Prestigious Award

'Henry Handel Richardson in Maldon' published in 2010 by Peter Cuffley, Helen McBurney, Geoff Palmer and Janey Runci, has recently won the Best/Walk Tour category of the annual Victorian Community History Awards. These awards, presented by the Royal History Society of Victoria, recognise the contribution made by Victorians to the preservation of Victoria's heritage.

This illustrated booklet about HHR's time in Maldon, contains three walks around the Maldon community including a detailed map, and features sixteen heritage buildings; the cemetery and significant graves, and a guide to places fictionalised in HHR's 'The Getting of Wisdom'. In addition to these sections, the book contains a host of other information about her six years spent living in Maldon.

Members of the Henry Handel Richardson Society of Australia congratulate the authors for both their initial endeavour and recent success with the publication. Peter Cuffley, Helen McBurney and Janey Runci are members of the Society; Helen and Janey both currently serve on our committee.

Order your copy of Henry Handel Richardson in Maldon, via our order form, cost $20 includes postage.