YS Cover
Published: 2017
No of Pages: 568
RRP: 39.95
Dimensions: 153x234 mm 
ISBN Print: 978-0-9944296-0-5
ISBN E-Pub: 978-0-9944296-2-9
ISBN PDF: 978-0-9944296-1-2

Yarn Spinners

Yarn Spinners is a story of friendship, politics and a shared commitment to a distinctive Australian literature woven through the letters of Dymphna Cusack, Florence James, Miles Franklin and their congenials.

“Marilla North gives us a marvellously evocative picture of these women’s lives and of the times in which they lived. They were, of course, great yarn spinners and the book, as a result, is highly readable. But do not be deceived that there is no art behind it, because there is. Marilla North has edited these letters with the skill, which is the more admirable because it is invisible. You think she is not there because the books flows on in such a seamless fashion but she is there and is a great tribute to her and her knowledge of her subject that it does so.”  Paul Brunton, former Senior Curator, State Library of NSW

“This is a mighty work of research and scholarship as well as being significant in its own right.”  Jill Roe, biographer of Stella Miles Franklin

“Now that I have insight into these authors’ lives, I have a great desire to re-read the books by Miles Franklin and to read Come in Spinner. I recommend Yarn Spinners as an interesting and enlightening book.”  Denise Harrison, Postgraduate Review, University of Melbourne.

Review of Yarn Spinners by Rowan Cahill in Labour History Melbourne

North’s curation of the letters of the three woman is poignant, moving, inspiring, frank, at times painful, at times humorous. The women were marvellous letter-writers. But there is more to the book than this, for it provides a gateway to the vibrant and rich liberal/radical democratic leftist culture that existed in Australia in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, one which the long ideological rule of Prime Minister Menzies and his cohorts strenuously sought to silence, close down, and eliminate. Click here to read more.

Click here read the review of Yarn Spinners in The Australian by Peter Pierce, 17 February 2018

Cover photo: Dymphna Cusack and Florence James,
Meanjin Collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 2005.0004.00062

Visit the Yarn Spinners website


About the Author

Marilla North

Marilla North was born in 1945 and educated in Newcastle, NSW. She gained Honours in English in the Leaving Certificate at NGHS where she first read Dymphna Cusack’s WWII novel Southern Steel, the book that ignited her passionate commitment to Cusack’s life and work. Marilla completed her MA (Hons) at Wollongong University in 1991 with a dissertation on the Cusack–James’ collaboration, the best seller Come in Spinner. Over the 1990s she lectured in literature and life writing and worked as a freelance journalist and book reviewer. Since 2001 Marilla has taught Australian literature to American students at Boston University’s Sydney Programme. After nearly ten years spent caring for her aged mother, in 2014 Marilla was awarded the Alfred Midgley Post Graduate Fellowship from the University of Queensland enabling her to return to her biographical trilogy on the life and times of Dymphna Cusack. The first edition of Yarn Spinners: A Story in Letters ‒ Dymphna Cusack, Miles Franklin and Florence James (UQP 2001) won the 2001 FAW Biography Prize. She lives with her husband in the upper Blue Moun­tains, enjoying the creative community of kindred spirits.

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