Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

Image. Advertisement:

Dorothy Hewett award to retain name

University of Western Australia (UWA) Publishing has announced it will continue the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript under its current name, following allegations made by Hewett’s two adult daughters that their mother encouraged a culture of sexual exploitation during their adolescence.

In a statement, UWA Publishing director Terri-ann White said that Hewett’s daughters Rozanna Lilley and Kate Lilley, who made the allegations, wanted the award’s name retained.

The two sisters have both recently published books that allude to the alleged abuse they experienced in their adolescence, one of them with UWA Publishing.

‘The stories told recently by Dorothy Hewett’s two daughters … are shocking and challenge ideas about the duty of parents and other responsible adults to protect children from harm,’ wrote White. ‘We express solidarity and love to these adult women for the courage of telling their painful stories in public. But we do not see this as a trigger to change the name of our award.

‘To conflate these two issues is to misunderstand why we selected Dorothy Hewett in the first place, to honour her profile and achievements as a writer with a strong connection to place and landscape in this part of Australia. As well, she was a writer with a rebellious nature who animated characters and figures from the past and her present on stage and on the page in her extensive output. We honour her work in the history of Australian literature and artistic expression and remain firm in this commitment. If the family were to instruct us to change our position, we would do so, but this is not the intention of Dorothy’s daughters to the ongoing legacy of her writing,’ wrote White.

The publisher was responding to a recent feature published by the Australian, in which the Lilley sisters described growing up in a ‘culture of sexual predation and objectification’, where male artists saw teenage girls as ‘fair game’, and how their mother encouraged their early sexualisation.

Men named in the article include writer Bob Ellis, painter Martin Sharp and British photographer David Hamilton.

Kate Lilley told the Australian she had been sexually assaulted by a film producer when she was 15 years old and raped by a well-known Australian poet several months later. She said she is not pressing for legal action to be taken against those men who are still alive and who assaulted or had underage sex with her.

Kate and Rozanna Lilley later spoke to the Sydney Morning Herald, stating these were not ‘new’ revelations and the culture in the 1970s they described in the article was not restricted to the arts scene. ‘This is not some out-of-the-blue attack on our mother,’ Kate said. ‘People have acted like this is big news but [mum] wrote about this constantly. It was all openly discussed with her.’



Category: Local news