Miles Franklin (born "Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin", October 14, 1879, died September 19, 1954) was an Australian writer. She was born at Talbingo, New South Wales and grew up in the Brindabella Valley.
Franklin is best known for My Brilliant Career, the story of an irrepressible teenage feminist growing to womanhood in rural New South Wales. This heroine, Sybylla Melvyn, is one of the most endearing characters in Australian literature and obviously has much in common with Franklin herself, who wrote the novel while she was still a teenager. After its publication in 1901, Franklin tried a career in nursing, and then as a housemaid in Sydney and Melbourne. Whilst doing this she contributed pieces to The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald under the pseudonyms "An Old Bachelor" and "Vernacular." During this period she wrote My Career Goes Bung in which Sybylla encounters the Sydney literary set. The book proved too hot to publish and would not become available to the public until 1946.
In 1906, Franklin moved to the USA and undertook secretarial work for Alice Henry, another Australian, at the National Women's Trade Union league in Chicago, and co-edited the league's magazine, Life and Labor. Her years in the U.S. are reflected in On Dearborn Street (not published until 1981), a love story that utilizes American slang in a manner not dissimilar to the early work of Dashiell Hammett. Also while in America she wrote Some Everyday Folk and Dawn (1909), the story of a small-town Australian family, that uses purple prose for deliberate comic effect. In 1915, she travelled to England and worked in the Scottish Women's Hospital at Ostrovo in the Serbian campaigns of 1917-1918. Her life in England in the 1920s gave rise to Bring the Monkey (1933), a spoof (but with dark undertones) on the English country house mystery novel. (This book contains an interesting expansion of the concept of mateship, with two Australian adventuresses and a Hindu man forming a common front against Scotland Yard and the toffs.) Franklin resettled back in Australia in 1932. During that decade she wrote several historical novels of the Australian bush. Although most of these were published under the pseudonym "Brent of Bin Bin," her masterpiece All That Swagger (1936)--a family chronicle novel packed with memorable characters--was published under her own name.
Miles Franklin died in 1954. In her will she bequeathed her estate to establish an annual literary award known as The Miles Franklin Award.
A revival of interest in Franklin occurred in the wake of the celebrated Australian New Wave film "My Brilliant Career" (1979). Although finely acted and with gorgeous cinematography, the film failed to fully capture Sybylla as a comic type thanks to limitations in the script. Nevertheless it has probably guaranteed that the novel on which it is based will now remain in print indefinitely throughout the English speaking world. Significant readership for Franklin's other novels unfortunately remains restricted to Australia.
She also had a school named after her, Miles Franklin Primary School, which is in Evatt in the ACT. Every year there they have a day to celebrate her and they have a writing competition to go with the day.
Books written by Miles Franklin
- My Brilliant Career (ISBN 1-59986-972-1)
- My Brilliant Career 1901
- Some Everyday Folk and Dawn 1909
- Old Blastus of Bandicoot 1931
- Bring the Monkey 1933
- All That Swagger 1936
- Pioneers on Parade 1939 - with Dymphna Cusack
- My Career Goes Bung 1946
- On Dearborn Street 1981
Under the pseudonym of "Brent of Bin Bin"
- Up the Country 1928
- Ten Creeks Run 1930
- Back to Bool Bool 1931
- Prelude to Waking 1950
- Cockatoos 1955
- Gentleman at Gyang Gyang 1956
- Joseph Furphy: The Legend of a Man and His Book 1944
- Laughter, Not for a Cage 1956
- Childhood at Brindabella 1963
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