The ‘Playful Pluralist’: The Pioneer Genre-Roaming of ‘Crypto-Feminist’Coral Lansbury

The ‘Playful Pluralist’: The Pioneer Genre-Roaming of ‘Crypto-Feminist’Coral Lansbury
M Nolan
9/19/19 10:51
Literature & History
Coral Lansbury wrote in a number of different registers and genres. Serially, she was an Australian radio script and ‘soaps’ writer, studied in New Zealand as an expatriate, became a Distinguished Professor of English specialising in British Victorian Studies in the USA and then a novelist. As well as boomeranging between writing careers and countries of the Anglosphere, the thrice-married Lansbury experienced widowhood, unmarried motherhood and divorce; she abandoned her child to her husband and later reconciled with her son. Her life reads like a plot from one of her novels. Lansbury was not active in women’s associations or the organised feminist movement. Her radio work, lectures and book tours in which she expounded her ‘crypto’ and, then later, ‘economic’ and ‘conservative-anarchist’ feminism were ephemeral. I argue that she should be repatriated into the history of postwar Australian feminism because, while mercurial and living in the USA, she pursued an expatriate professional strategy successfully and consistently sought to extend women’s vocation through kinds of popular literature. Her work reveals pluralism as much as contradiction.

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