Uplifting Quotes for the Uninspired Historian #12: Hazel Rowley

I was saddened to read that Hazel Rowley died in March this year. It’s timely that I should write this post aware that the French department of the University of Adelaide is hosting a day-long tribute to her this coming Saturday 19th November. One of the  conundrums of the internet is the status of a website of a person who has died. Should it be left as it was? Does updating it somehow detract from its integrity, or does it honour the person’s ongoing relevance? Hazel Rowley’s website has been taken down this route by her sister.

I enjoyed reading Rowley’s 2007 LaTrobe University/Australian Book Review lecture “The Ups The Downs: My Life as a Biographer”, which is available on the ABR archives page (you’ll need to scroll down almost to the bottom of the page).  Once again, I haven’t actually read any of the biographies she has written, but this comment about the art of writing biography struck a chord with me:

Biographers carry a big responsibility.  They have someone’s life in their hands.  What’s unjust is that, if you read a dull biography, you come away thinking that person’s life was dull.  In reality it’s almost never the life that’s the problem; it’s the narration.  No wonder people are wary of biographers.  It’s hard enough to die; we don’t want some dullard turning our lives into insipid gruel.

One response to “Uplifting Quotes for the Uninspired Historian #12: Hazel Rowley

  1. Must say I have wondered this myself re personal websites of people who’ve died. I’ve see a few this year – one was the poet Janice Bostock and another was, in fact, Hazel Rowley’s. I guess the info is still valid but it seems a little weird when it was clearly THEIR site that they managed.

    I’ve only read Franklin and Eleanor, which I did like, but have heard great things about some of her others so would like to read more.

    That’s a great quote, btw!

Leave a Reply to whisperinggums Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s