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Christina Stead and the Socialist Heritage By Michael Ackland

Chapter 1:  Prologue
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Christina Stead and the Socialist Heritage

Chapter 1


“My friends know I have strong political views”.

—Christina Stead

Christina Stead’s life is at once too well and too little known. Fourteen major works, totalling more than five-and-a-half-thousand pages, refract half a century of her experiences on three continents. These are complemented by important caches of surviving letters, which evoke her impressions of specific places and countries, capture the ebb and flow of her personal relations, and offer apparently frank avowals on a variety of literary, social, and historical subjects. Moreover Stead, following the reissuing of The Man Who Loved Children in 1965, enjoyed considerable fame and, after returning permanently to her native land in 1975, made herself publicly available on numerous occasions, including for lengthy periods as a writer in residence at the Australian National University and Monash University. There she cultivated the impression of being primarily interested in her art. Certainly she responded to current issues, embracing the concern of her friend, Herbert Cole“Nugget” Coombs, with indigenous affairs, as well as lending her voice to growing opposition to the war in Vietnam. But there was little in her utterances to distinguish them from the local leftist agenda of the day, which opposed