Elizabeth Harrower was born in Sydney in 1928. She lived in Newcastle until her family moved back to Sydney when she was eleven. In 1951 Harrower travelled to London and began to write. Her first novel, Down in the City, was published there in 1957 and was followed by The Long Prospect a year later. In 1959 she returned to Sydney, where she worked in radio and then in publishing. Her third novel, The Catherine Wheel, appeared in 1960.
Harrower published The Watch Tower, the novel often called her masterpiece, in 1966. Four years later she finished In Certain Circles, but withdrew it from publication at the last moment. The novel was finally published in 2014, to great acclaim. As well as novels Harrower wrote short stories, most of which are collected in A Few Days in the Country (2015).
She is one of the most important postwar Australian writers. She was admired by many of her contemporaries, including Patrick White and Christina Stead, who both became lifelong friends. Her fiction is now reaching a new generation of readers and writers.
Elizabeth Harrower lives in Sydney.
The Stella Prize: A Tribute to Elizabeth Harrower
‘When Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower came ‘roaring out of forty years in obscurity’, as Helen Garner put it in the Australian’s 2012 round-up of best books, we didn’t know that we’d go on to republish all of Elizabeth’s work.’ Read this feature on the Text blog by senior editor David Winter.
‘Harrower’s writing is witty, desolate, truth-seeking, and complexly polished. Everything (except feeling, which is passionately and directly confessed) is controlled and put under precise formal pressure. Her sentences, which have an unsettling candor, launch a curling assault on the reader, often twisting in unexpected ways…Harrower is an exceptionally subtle psychologist…[Her] five novels have an almost relentless thematic consistency and a strikingly similar darkness of vision.’ James Wood, New Yorker
Australian: Elizabeth Harrower: nearly 90 and still dangerous ($)