Thursday 25 December 2014

F is for Stella Miles Franklin

The Miles Franklin Literary Award is named after Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin who was born on the 14th October 1879 on Talbingo station in southern NSW.

Franklin's family moved a little to the east to Brindabella Station when she was a child.

She was the eldest daughter of two Australian born parents (which is noteworthy for the time as most of the population were new immigrants). In fact, one of Franklin's great-great grandfathers was a convict on the First Fleet.

Franklin's most famous novel, My Brilliant Career, is a coming of age story about a feisty, rural, feminist Sybylla. Franklin wrote this during her teenage years loosely based on her own life.

It was published in 1901.

Many of Franklin's family & friends were upset by the publication of the book as they felt that she was parodying them in the book.

In 1902 Franklin's family moved to a property near Penrith as they struggled with downward mobilty & declining fortunes.

In 1906, Franklin moved to the US and worked as a secretary for a number of years before suffering ill health & spending time in a sanatorium.

In 1915 she travelled to England, then Europe, engaging in war work as a hospital cook.

Back in London after the war, Franklin worked for the National Housing and Town Planning Association. In 1924 she organised the women's international housing convention.

In 1931, Franklin's father died and she returned to live in Australia.

Franklin struggled to live up to the success of her first novel. She published several books under other names to avoid recognition and comparison, but sadly, poor reviews dogged her later years.

Franklin died on the 19th September, 1954 in Sydney.

Her will set up an annual literary prize awarded to "a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases".


My Brilliant Career (1901)
Some Everyday Folk and Dawn (1909)
Old Blastus of Bandicoot (1931)
Bring the Monkey (1933)
All That Swagger (1936)
Pioneers on Parade (1939) – with Dymphna Cusack
My Career Goes Bung (1946)
On Dearborn Street (1981)
Under the pseudonym of "Brent of Bin Bin"
Up the Country (1928)
Ten Creeks Run (1930)
Back to Bool Bool (1931)
Prelude to Waking (1950)
Cockatoos (1955)
Gentleman at Gyang Gyang (1956)


Joseph Furphy: The Legend of a Man and His Book (1944)
Laughter, Not for a Cage (1956)
Childhood at Brindabella (1963)


Miles Franklin in America: Her (Unknown) Brilliant Career by Verna Coleman (1981)

Miles Franklin Her Brilliant Career by Colin Roderick (1982)

Stella Miles Franklin: A Biography by Jill Roe (2008)

Other Stuff

  • The Canberra suburb, Franklin is named in her honour. 
  • A movie was of My Brilliant Career in 1979 directed by Gillian Armstriong & starring Judy Davis. 
  • The new Stella Prize celebrating Australian women's writing is also named in her honour. 

It has been many years since I read My Brilliant Career or watched the movie.

I confess that both annoyed me at the time. The teenage Stella came across as a whining, demanding, OTT brat.

Sadly, I recall nothing about the quality of the writing or the other details of the we all know what that means! It's time for a reread!

Have you read anything by or about Stella Miles Franklin?

This post is part of Alphabe-Thursday & Authors by Alphabet.


  1. Hi Brona ~~ Again, our library has one of Stella's books, My Brilliant Career. I might read it but I hadn't started yet with Dessaix's "Night Letters." I will hurry. Also I am in the middle, been there for quite a while, of "When Life Gives You Lemons Make Lemonade." It is a romance novel written by an Aussie blogging friend, Fiona Biedermann. At first she was giving it away, now on Kindle is $1.99US at
    Although I have a lot of half read books, I will finish her book

  2. I have not, but I will certainly add her to my list!

  3. Stella Franklin is new to me. It's nice she set up a literary award.


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