Jolley, Elizabeth 1923-2007 (Monica Elizabeth Jolley)

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Jolley, Elizabeth 1923-2007 (Monica Elizabeth Jolley)


See index for CA sketch: Born June 4, 1923, in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England; died February 13, 2007, in Perth, Australia. Author. Jolley was an award-winning fiction writer who was difficult to categorize, though she was sometimes considered a gothic stylist in her preference for writing about misfits who often find themselves in macabre situations. She moved to Australia after marrying her husband, who took his family to Perth in 1959 to establish the University of Western Australia library. Jolley raised her children and tried several vocations, including sales, nursing, and running a poultry farm. She spent free time writing, but did not begin to publish successfully until she was in her fifties. Her first successes were the radio play Night Report (1975) and the short-story collection Five Acre Virgin and Other Stories (1976). As she continued to publish, Jolley gained a reputation as an author who wrote with wit about dysfunctional families, misfits, and, sometimes, monstrous murderers. Critics tried to compare her to such authors as Flannery O'Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Muriel Stark, D.H. Lawrence, Grace Paley, or Barbara Pym, but had to conclude that she was difficult to categorize. Some reviewers criticized her for writing unusual tales that nevertheless lacked deep themes; others had high praise for her distinctive style, and Jolley garnered numerous prizes over her career. Among these are the New South Wales Premier's Prize, a Book of the Year Award from the Fellowship of Australian Writers, a Booker Prize nomination and a Miles Franklin award for The Well (1986), and a Gold Medal Award from the Australian Literary Society for Cabin Fever (1990). In 1988 she was named an Officer of the Order of Australia, and in 1997 her adopted country listed her among the one hundred National Living Treasures. Among her other novels are Miss Peabody's Inheritance (1983), Mild and Honey (1986), The Orchard Thieves (1995), and An Innocent Gentleman (2001). Jolley's The Well was adapted to film in 1997. She wrote about her life in the autobiographical trilogy My Father's Moon (1989), Cabin Fever (1990), and The Georges' Wife (1993).



Jolley, Elizabeth, My Father's Moon, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia, 1989.

Jolley, Elizabeth, Cabin Fever, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1990.

Jolley, Elizabeth, The Georges' Wife, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1993.


New York Times, April 11, 2007, p. A20.

Times (London, England), April 7, 2007, p. 73.