It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state others are
paying large sums to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard
Shirley Hazzard is an Australian author of fiction and nonfiction. Born in Australia, she holds citizenship in Great Britain and the United States.
The Evening of the Holiday (1966)
The Bay of Noon (1970), shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize
The Transit of Venus (1980), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction
The Great Fire (2003), winner of the National Book Award for fiction
Short story collections
People in Glass Houses (1967)
Defeat of an Ideal: A Study of the Self-destruction of the United Nations (1973)
Coming of Age in Australia (1985)
Countenance of Truth: The United Nations and the Waldheim Case (1990)
Greene on Capri: A Memoir (2000)
The Ancient Shore: Dispatches from Naples (2008) (with Francis Steegmuller)
Born in Sydney, she attended Queenwood School for Girls in Mosman. In 1947 she departed Mosman to travel through Southeast Asia with her parents. Her first landing was Hiroshima. Her diplomat father took her to Hong Kong, and then she was “brutally removed by destiny” to New Zealand where her father worked as the Australian Trade Commissioner. Hazzard says of her experience of the East that “I began to feel that people could enjoy life, should enjoy life”.
Hazzard’s early life “was a carbon copy of Helen Driscoll’s” the heroine of The Great Fire. Helen and her brother, the dying Benedict, are described as “wonderfully well-read, a poetic pair who live in literature.” Poetry, she says, has always been the centre of her life.
She travelled to Italy in 1956, and worked for a year in Naples.
In 1963, Hazzard married the writer Francis Steegmuller, who died in 1994. Steegmuller, an American biographer, translator and fiction writer, was known chiefly as a Flaubert scholar.
As of 2006, she lives in New York City, frequently travelling to her Italian residence in Capri.
“Life doesn’t have to prove itself. Life happens; we have to accept it. Reading fiction, the disbelieving, skeptical critic likes to feel in control. Yet his own existence, all existence, is subject to the accidental element, to the inexplicable or magical, or dreadful intervention that cannot be justified by logic. A friend of mine who knew the Shetland Islands told me that in the long light of the northern summer there comes a moment, in July, when a rock becomes visible that lies between the Shetlands and Norway. If the weather is favorable, a watch is kept from a certain promontory, and the rock can be seen. This phenomenon was denounced by scientists as wishful thinking, and quite impossible, but the rock has continued to manifest itself irrefutably: the thing is standing there, indifferent, or perhaps laughing to itself: unaccountable.” Believer Magazine.