Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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Exhibitions

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Wright, Judith Arundell (1915 - 2000)

Born
31 May 1915
Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
Died
26 June 2000
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Occupation
Poet and Writer

Summary

Judith Wright expressed her love of Australia and its people in her poetry. She was also a respected writer on poetry. Later in her life Wright was well known as a conservationist and campaigner for Aboriginal rights. Wright, a descendant of a pioneering pastoralist family, began writing poetry at the age of six for her ailing mother. At the age of 14 she became a boarder at the New England Girls School, and it was during her time there that she decided to become a poet.

After completing an Arts course at the University of Sydney, Wright worked in a variety of positions including that of research officer at Queensland University, where she helped Clem Christesen to edit Meanjin.

In 1975, Wright was the first woman appointed to the Council of Australian National University as the Governor-General's nominee. She was founder and later president of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, and member of the National Parks Association of New South Wales and the South Coast Conservation Council. Wright was a patron of many organisations including: Campaign Against Nuclear Power (Queensland); Townsville Women's Shelter; Amnesty International (Victoria.); Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland and the National Forests Action Council (Victoria.).

In 1991, Wright became the second Australian - after Michael Thwaites in 1940 - to receive the Queen's gold medal for poetry.

Joan Williams concludes her obituary on Judith Wright in The Guardian on July 5, 2000 with:
"Judith Wright is not a romantic, but makes her judgement on changes in the economy and lifestyle, the growth of industry and the swing from country to city. In her own way she has taken a step further for us in the expression of Australian national, spiritual and environment values in her poetry."

Details

Judith Wright, who died in Canberra of a heart attack, had spent much of her time there from the early 1970s when her daughter Meredith went to study at the Australian National University. Her long relationship with H.C. 'Nugget' Coombs was an added incentive for her to be close to Canberra. In 1973 she was appointed Chairman of the Australia Council. In 1975 She bought the property Edge 100 kilometres east of Canberra and spent much of her time there. By 1998 she was living in a small flat in Canberra.

Events

1938 - 1942
Stenographic and secretarial work in Sydney
1944 - 1948
Statistical research officer with the Queensland University
1949
Awarded a Commonwealth Literary Fund Fellowship
1949
Awarded the Grace Leven Prize from the Braidwood Historical Society
1962 - 1976
President of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland
1963
Foundation council member of the Australia Society Authors (ASA)
1964 - 1972
Council member of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF)
1965
Awarded the Encyclopedia Britannica Prize for literature
1970
Awarded Fellow Australian Academy of Humanities (FAHA)
1972
Awarded the Grace Leven Prize from the Braidwood Historical Society
1973 - 1974
Member of the Committee of Enquiry into the National Estate
1975 - 1979
Council member of the Australian National University (ANU)
1976
Awarded the Senior Anzac Fellowship
1976
Awarded the Robert Frost Memorial Award from the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW)
1977 - 1979
Awarded the Senior Writers Fellowship by the Literature Board of the Australia Council
1979 - 1983
Member of the Aboriginal Treaty Committee
1980
Awarded the Alice Award by the Society of Women Writers of Australia
1980
Awarded the Order of the Golden Ark, degree of Ridder by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands
1980
Awarded Hon. Life Member Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF)
1984
Awarded the Indian Asan World prize for poetry
1992
Awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry

Sources used to compile this entry: From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra, Australian Women's Archives Project, February 2013, http://www.womenaustralia.info/exhib/ldkg; Cornwell, Tony, 'Australian poet Judith Wright (1915-2000): an appreciation', in World Socialist Web Site, International Committee of the Fourth International, 31 August 2000, http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/aug2000/wrig-a31.shtml; Neto, Maryanne (researcher) (ed.), Who's Who in Australia 1998, 38 edn, Information Australia Group Pty Ltd, Melbourne, 1997, 1720 pp; Williams, Joan, 'Judith Wright', in The Guardian, Communist Party of Australia, July 5, 2000, http://www.cpa.org.au/garchve2/1007jw.html.

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Archival resources

Fryer Library and Department of Special Collections, University of Queensland

  • Papers relating to Oodgeroo Noonuccal, 1991 - 1994, UQFL286; Fryer Library and Department of Special Collections, University of Queensland. Details

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • The generations of men [manuscript], MS 311; Wright, Judith Arundell (1915 - 2000); National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Letters from Judith Wright, 1986 - 1989, MS 7836; Leanne Crisp Letters, 1986-1989 [manuscript]; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Papers of Judith Wright, 1959 - 1995, MS 5781; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Papers of Judith Wright, 1949 - 1951, MS 9183; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details
  • Papers of Nancy Cato, 1939 - 1995, MS 757; Cato, Nancy (1917 - 2000); National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Special Collections, Academy Library, UNSW@ADFA, Australian Defence Force Academy

  • Craig Powell manuscript collection, 1960 - 1970, MS 152; Special Collections, Academy Library, UNSW@ADFA, Australian Defence Force Academy. Details

Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0114b.htm

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