Honouring Australian Writers / Henry Handel Richardson Resources

On Saturday 20 August, the NSW Writers’ Centre paid tribute to Henry Handel Richardson, the pen name of Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson, as part of its Honouring Australian Writers series. Here is a collection of resources for those interest in learning more about Henry Handel Richardson and her work.

On Saturday 20 August, the NSW Writers’ Centre paid tribute to Henry Handel Richardson, the pen name of Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson, as part of its Honouring Australian Writers series. Held at the State Library of NSW,  the event featured director Bruce Beresford, author Sophie Cunningham, historian Anna Clark and Professor Michael Ackland.

If you want to find out more about Henry Handel Richardson and her work, the most comprehensive overview can be found on the Austlit Reading Australia website, funded by the Copyright Agency.

In addition to the overview it includes suggestions for further reading, links to articles, radio interviews, and reviews. You can find it here.

Although not online, an excellent article about HHR’s life and work can by found in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 230, Australian Literature 1788-1914. Henry Handel Richardson by Susan Lever p313-326.

You can hear a recording of Henry Handel Richardson reading an excerpt from The Fortunes of Richard Mahony on the BBC Radio 4’s Front Row website. It was recorded in 1944.

The Henry Handel Richardson Society is committed to engaging people in HHR’s work and life. They have a newsletter and regularly hold events at Lake View House in Chiltern, the Richardson’s family home.

Most importantly, if you want to read her work, Text Publishing has recently reprinted editions of:

The Getting of Wisdom with an introduction by Germaine Greer

Maurice Guest with an introduction by Carmen Calill

The Fortunes of Richard Mahony with an introduction by Peter Craven

You can find them in bookstores or order them here

You can read an edited version of Peter Craven’s introduction to The Fortunes in Canberra Times.



Karen McLeod (1985) Henry Handel Richardson; A Critical Study, Cambridge University Press

Axel Clark (1989) Henry Handel Richardson: Fiction in the Making, Simon & Schuster

Michael Ackland (2005) Henry Handel Richardson: A Life, Cambridge University Press

Clive Probyn; Bruce Steele (2000) Henry Handel Richardson: The Letters, Vols 1–3, Miegunyah Press

Susan Lever, Catherine Pratt (1997) Henry Handel Richardson : the Getting of Wisdom, stories, selected prose and correspondence, University of QLD Press



Sophie Cunningham wrote about HHR’s influence on her in the Aug/Sep 2016 issue of our magazine, Newswrite.

The Case for The Fortunes of Richard Mahony by Paul Giles, Challis Chair of English, University of Sydney

Article by Patrick Neustatter (grand nephew of HHR) about his visit to Australia for the HHR Society.

Getting Henry – Thomas Christansen (This essay was the introduction to the 1993 Mercury House reissue of The Getting of Wisdom.)

Helen Garner’s speech given at the HHR Society short story award

Clive Probyn, President of HHR Society, interview with Michael Cathcart on Books & Arts Daily.


Bruce Beresford directed the 1997 film of The Getting of WisdomHe has been trying for years to get a film/TV adaptation of The Fortunes of Richard Mahony.  In his memoir Josh Harnett Definitely Wants to Do This, he says:

“Last year I wrote an adaptation of Henry Handel Richardson’s three volume epic “The Fortunes of Richard Mahony”. I didn’t really expect potential investors to have read the novel (I’m not sure anyone but a few academics and myself have read it since 1940) but I did at least expect them to have heard of it – and her – the author. This was not the case. Clearly no one I spoke to had the faintest idea of what or who I was talking about. Not all that amazing these days.”

As was evident at our event, Honouring: HHR, Bruce Beresford is still passionate about making an adaptation of Fortunes. He’s always open to donations …


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