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RiP Eleanor Witcombe

Australian screenwriter and playwright Eleanor Witcombe has died, aged 95.

Witcombe’s most well-known works were the book-to-screen adaptations of My Brilliant Career (Miles Franklin, HarperCollins), The Getting of Wisdom (Henry Handel Richardson, Text) and Seven Little Australians (Ethel Turner, Puffin).

Her 1979 screenplay adaptation of My Brilliant Career won six Australian Film Institute Awards, including Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Achievement in Direction. The screenplay was published in 1992 as part of UQP’s ‘Screenplay’ series. Witcombe was also responsible for the successful theatrical adaptation for puppets of Norman Lindsay’s classic children’s book The Magic Pudding (HarperCollins), which toured Australia-wide between 1970-1987.

Witcombe was a founding member of the Australian Writers’ Guild, where she fought for writers’ rights, fees and royalties in the Australian film and television industry. In 2014 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to the arts.

Former Australian Writers’ Guild CEO Angela Wales Kirgo writes:

‘Eleanor Witcombe’s place in the history of Australian screenwriting is assured not just by her wonderful screen adaptations of a series of Australian iconic classics but by her outsize personality and fierce passion for the rights of writers.

‘She was a feisty and outspoken member and a character to be reckoned with. Whenever she appeared at the door of my office I knew we were in for a wild ride. I loved her and loved her company.’


Category: Obituaries