"Inventing Beatrice": Writing an Auto/biography.

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Golden, Jill
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Hecate Press, in association with the Centre for Women, Gender, Culture and Social Change Research, in the School of English, Media Studies and Art History at the University of Queensland.
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'Mob' was the name adopted by a group of young women who were Arts students at Melbourne University between 1928 and 1935. They saw themselves as 'a slightly chosen race of free and original spirits', resisting the conventions of their time and place. I have written the story of one of those women, who became my mother. On the basis of extensive letters and diaries I imagine and plot what she and 'Mob' did, thought, felt and said. I also ask myself: what was untold/untellable in the lives of these particular women? In this paper I focus on lesbian love, and the self-surveillance of its boundaries amongst the women. I discuss the use and/or abuse of letters and diaries in the writing of an auto/biography. I also examine my own writing processes - the questions that came to the surface as I recreated a life story through the particular lens of the mother-daughter relationship. I want to position myself at the outset as an auto/biography writer with academic interests, rather than the reverse. This is not a theoretical paper. It deals with the process of using diaries and letters to write a biography of my mother, which simultaneously became a kind of autobiography. It is a movement from silence to narrative. It is a story about the construction of identity, and in particular about being female in Australia in the 1920s and 1930s.
Women, Authors, Biography, Primary documents
Golden, Jill 2000. "Inventing Beatrice": Writing an Auto/biography. 'Hecate', vol.26, no.2, 176-185.