by Camden Morrisby

A head shot of a woman wearing a black hat who is directing her gaze at the camera. Her oval-shaped face is slightly turned to the right. She has dark, shaped brows, her eyes are slightly closed, giving her an almost sleepy, dream-like expression. Her nose is long and her lips are closed.shaped dark eyebrows, a long curving nose. This article by Camden Morrisby appeared in The bulletin in June 1953, nearly a decade after the publication of Kylie Tennan’ts novel, Ride on Stranger, the topic of Bill’s post on Wednesday. As Morrisby’s work is still in copyright, only a short extract is given here. The rest can be accessed via Trove.

I am happy to have known Kylie Tennant for a good many years – indeed right from the beginning of her literary career. Her first novel, Tiburon, I read in type script in the spring of 1935. I had been appointed one of the judges in that year’s competition for the S H Prior Memorial Prize.

I shall never forget what an exhilarating experience it was, reading that exciting and engrossing story, which broke new literary ground, dealing as it did with the dole days in a New South Wales country town.

Tiburon had been submitted under a masculine pen-name. Not till the secret was disclosed with the opening of the sealed envelope, had I ever heard the author’s name, nor, I think, had more than one of my colleagues any suspicion who she was.

Kylie Tennant was born at Manly and educated at Brighton College. She took Honours in English when she sat for the Leaving Certificate at the age of 16, then tried broadcasting by way of a career. Not finding that wholly satisfying, she made for Melbourne, landing there on her eighteenth birthday. For about a year she ran a tobacconist kiosk, and sold papers and things on a suburban railway station…

… Kylie Tennant wrote to tell me she had something tough in view this time. It was to be another city story, not, like Foveaux [Tennant’s second novel], about a slum. It would cover a country girl’s contacts in Sydney with all the different crazes that came and went during the years from 19020-1940: Social, political, literary. And one thesis would be that most if not all people in cities (allow for literary exaggeration, she said) are a screw loose.

The result was Ride on Stranger…

[The full text of this article can be read here.]


Camden Morrisby, A novelist I know – Kylie Tennant, The Bulletin, 6 Jun 1953: 29.