Mothers are among the ultimate female archetypes: after all, a mother’s body is where life begins. And even in this (relatively) enlightened age, mothers are the ones, more often than not, responsible for nurturing their children and ushering them safely to adulthood. No wonder that when things go wrong, the mother is often the first place we look for blame. Conversely, mothers of successful children are exalted as saints – and mothers of difficult children are martyrs … when they manage not to crack under the pressure. No matter which way you look at it, there’s a lot to live up to.
In honour of International Women’s Day, our host Monica Dux, along with Patti Miller and Ceridwen Dovey, we’ll explore the fertile territory of motherhood, and celebrate mothers on the page. We’ll look at the intricacies and the ecstasies of writing on mothers: writing our mothers, writing as a mother, and some of the worst and best mothers represented in fiction. (From The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’s Mrs Winterson, to Harry Potter’s Molly Weasley and I Capture the Castle’s Topaz).
Patti Miller was raised on a farm in central western NSW and has worked teaching writing for over twenty five years. Her books include Writing Your Life (Allen & Unwin, 1994, 2001),The Last One Who Remembers (Allen & Unwin, 1997), Child (Allen & Unwin, 1998), Whatever the Gods Do (Random House, 2003), The Memoir Book (Allen & Unwin, 2007), The Mind of a Thief (2013, currently a set VCE text, winner NSW Premier's prize ) and coming in April this year, Ransacking Paris. She currently teaches at the innovative Faber Academy in Sydney.
Monica Dux is a columnist with the Age, and the author of Things I Didn’t Expect (when I was expecting) (2013), co-author of The Great Feminist Denial (2008), and editor of the forthcoming anthology Mothermorphosis (April 2015). She can be heard regularly on ABC radio and 3RRR, and has published widely, especially on women’s issues. Monica is a founding board member of the Stella Prize.
Ceridwen Dovey’s debut novel, Blood Kin, was published in 15 countries, shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Award, and selected for the US National Book Foundation’s prestigious ‘5 Under 35’ honours list. The Wall Street Journal has named her as one of their ‘artists to watch.’ Her latest book of fiction is Only the Animals, described by the Guardian as a ‘dazzling, imagined history of humans’ relationship with animals.'