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Special Event

Livestream: Shirley Hazzard: A Writing Life, with Brigitta Olubas, Lisabeth During, Jonathan Galassi, Edward Hirsch, and Francesca Wade

Thursday, November 17, 2022 - 6:00 PM | Livestream | open to the public | $10 per person | registration required


This is the first biography of Shirley Hazzard, the author of The Transit of Venus and a writer of “shocking wisdom” and “intellectual thrill” (The New Yorker).

Shirley Hazzard: A Writing Life tells the extraordinary story of a great modern novelist. Brigitta Olubas, Hazzard’s authorized biographer, has drawn, with great subtlety and understanding, on her fiction (itself largely based on Hazzard’s own experience); on an extensive archive of letters, diaries, and notebooks; and on the memories of surviving friends and colleagues to create this resonant portrait of an exceptional woman.

This biography explores the distinctive times of Hazzard’s life, from her youth and middle age to her widowhood and years of decline, and traces the complex and intricate processes of self-fashioning that lay beneath Hazzard’s formidable, beguiling presence. Hazzard was the last of a generation of self-taught writers, devotees of a great literary tradition, and her depth of perception and expressive gifts have earned her iconic status. Brigitta Olubas has brought her brilliantly alive, enhancing and deepening our understanding of the singular woman who created some of the most enduring fiction of the past sixty years.

In this special event, the biography will be introduced by a range of speakers: Three will speak from their individual perspectives of the enduring significance of Shirley Hazzard’s life and work today. Francesca Wade will conduct a q+a with Brigitta Olubas. Nicholas Birns introduces.

Lisabeth During is Associate Professor at Pratt Institute. She writes on aesthetics, film, and European philosophy. She was educated in the US and UK and taught for many years at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, where she was in the School of Philosophy, and she was also on the Board of Directors of the experimental art hub, Performance Space. Her most recent book is The Chastity Plot (U Chicago Press, 2021). Her current project is titled: “She Did It In Her Sleep: Rape, Unconsciousness, and the Problem of Knowledge.”

Jonathan Galassi has served as the president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and is currently the chairman and executive editor. He has edited and published poets at FSG since 1986 and was Shirley Hazzard's publisher. Photo by Elena Seibert

Edward Hirsch is a celebrated poet and tireless advocate for poetry. He has published ten collections, which have received awards including the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, the Lavan Younger poets Award and the National Book Critics Award. He is also an editor of poetry collections and has published six books of prose, including most recently The Heart of American Poetry (Library of America, 2022). Honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, the Prix de Rome and Academy of Arts and Letters Award. He has been president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation since 2002. Photo by Julie Dermansky

Brigitta Olubas is professor of English at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. She published the first scholarly monography on Shirley Hazzard’s writing in 2012, and recently edited two volumes of Shirley Hazzard’s writing: We Need Silence To Find Out What We Think (Columbia U Press, 2016) and Collected Stories (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020). Author photo ©Amanda J. Hunt

Francesca Wade is the author of Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars, which was longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize and shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. She is a current fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, where she is working on a book about Gertrude Stein.

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