Zora Cross – rescued from oblivion

Portrait of Australian poet Zora Cross

Portrait of Australian poet Zora Cross


While Zora’s fame didn’t last, she kept writing through financial hardship, personal tragedies and two world wars, producing a remarkable body of work.
 

Australian poet and journalist Zora Cross caused a sensation in 1917 with her book Songs of Love and Life. Here was a young woman, who looked like a Sunday school teacher, celebrating sexual passion in a provocative series of sonnets. She was hailed as a genius, and many expected her to endure as a household name alongside Shakespeare and Rossetti.

While Zora’s fame didn’t last, she kept writing through financial hardship, personal tragedies and two world wars, producing a remarkable body of work. Her verse, prose and correspondence with the likes of Ethel Turner, George Robertson (of Angus & Robertson) and Mary Gilmore place Zora Cross among the key personalities of Australia’s literary world in the early 20th century. 

Author and editor Cathy Perkins recently spoke about her new biography, The Shelf Life of Zora Cross (Monash University Publishing), in conversation with Library Curator Sarah Morley.

They discussed the pleasures and challenges of biography, and why Zora Cross was such a satisfying subject.

Cathy Perkins in conversation with Sarah Morley

Portrait of Australian poet Zora Cross

Download the full transcript of the talk (PDF)

View a selection of Zora Cross items, including the manuscript and Norman Lindsay’s original cover art for Songs of Love and Life, in our Amaze Gallery.

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