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Frank Moorhouse: A life

 Author: Catharine Lumby  Category: Biographies & Memoirs  Pages: 399  Kindle

The definitive biography of one of Australia’s best-known men of letters.

Many writers fashion a career out of their writing. Some fashion brilliant careers. Very few, however, commit to their art in a manner that inflects every aspect of their own daily life. Frank Moorhouse was one of the rare writers who actively chose to live a life that was as grounded in conscious aesthetic and ethical choices as his writing.

A decade before his death in 2022, Frank Moorhouse asked renowned journalist, writer and academic Catharine Lumby to be his biographer. This was an inspired choice, influenced by their decades of friendship and by Lumby’s close engagement with, and appreciation for, Moorhouse’s writing. She ‘got’ him and his work, he said, in a way few others did.

Frank Moorhouse was one of Australia’s best-known and most-loved authors, here and around the world. His career spanned the genres of the novel, the short story, the essay, the memoir, the erotic novella, the screenplay and the historical monograph. He even invented a literary form: the discontinuous narrative.

Moorhouse was also one of the country’s foremost public intellectuals; his contribution to Australian cultural, social and political life was prolific, erudite and astoundingly broad. Throughout his career he moved between the roles of activist, author, advocate and scholar. His interests encompassed intimate relationships, social mores, history, politics, international law, foreign policy, intellectual property and censorship. On all these subjects, he wrote and spoke with distinctive elegance, wit and perception.

Given Moorhouse’s influence on literature and public life, it is astonishing that this is the first biography of a man recognised as one of our most important writers and thinkers. In this fascinating and crucial work, Catharine Lumby weaves the intellectual and aesthetic aspects of Moorhouse’s life into a sparkling dialogue, highlighting the depth of his impact on Australian culture.