Australian Suffrage Theatre on the World Stage
Chapter 5 Stella Miles Franklin: The Suffragette Speaks
Stella Miles Franklin: The Suffragette Speaks
As a girl growing up in the bush, she only ever wanted to be a writer. More, she wanted to write plays that changed the world. Did Stella Miles Franklin have what it takes? Could she write? Did she have the sensibility, persistance and talent? Certainly, she had the contacts: ‘You know, Miles my dear, you’re rather sloppy about Americans’, wrote St John Ervine to Franklin, commenting on her dramatic characterisation. ‘They aren’t all charming, and a vast majority of them are plain damned fools’.1 Ervine went on to concede that Americans could be unsurpassably likeable, but unlike Franklin he felt under no obligation to exalt them whilst simultaneously belittling the English. Franklin sought out and nurtured mentors her life long. Sometimes she was slavish to their advice, other times more trusting of her own writerly self. Franklin never stopped striving to achieve her writerly ambitions, and her biggest decision to that end was to choose the life of an expatriate.
Franklin had strong opinions about her chosen expatriate homes, first the USA and later England. Her years abroad – the years in which she was intensely engaged in her ambitions to succeed as a playwright – left her both permanently enriched and astoundingly exhausted. More than twenty major plays were written during this period of her life, but she was unable to secure a commercial success or critical acclaim as a playwright. Exploring those desires for places...
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