Susan Jean Mitchell (b. 1945) was born in Adelaide and is a graduate of the University of Adelaide, Adelaide Teachers’ College, and Flinders University of South Australia. From 1971 to 1995 she was a lecturer in literary studies at the University of South Australia (formerly the South Australian College of Advanced Education). She later moved to Sydney and has been a freelance journalist, broadcaster and author. She was a member of the Literature Board of the Australia Council in 1992–95 and a director of Film Australia in 1995–98.

Mitchell is the author of 11 books including:

Tall Poppies (1984)

The Matriarchs (1987)

Hot Shots (1990)

Public Lives, Private Passions (1994)

Icons, Saints and Divas (1997)

Margaret Whitlam, A Biography (2006)

Her radio and television programs have included The Susan Mitchell Program, Susan Mitchell in Conversation, The Susan Mitchell Book Club and Tall Poppies.


In 1989 the Library purchased a collection of oral history interviews recorded by Mitchell when she was writing her books Tall Poppies, Winning Women and The Matriarchs. In 2005 a second instalment was purchased, comprising drafts of her books, correspondence, press cuttings, and tapes and transcripts of interviews.


Oral History

The original collection consists of 41 cassettes of interviews with prominent Australian women recorded by Mitchell in 1981–87. The interviewees include Joy Baluch, Dame Beryl Beaurepaire, Raelene Boyle, Evonne Cawley, Dame Mary Durack, Beatrice Faust, Dawn Fraser, Heather McKay, Marlene Mathews, Dame Roma Mitchell, Robyn Nevin, Pat O’Shane, Elizabeth Riddell, Edna Ryan, Maggie Tabberer and Margaret Whitlam.

The 2005 instalment contains 85 cassettes of interviews, mostly with women, recorded by Mitchell between 1981 and 2001. The interviewees include Robyn Archer, Betty Churcher, Cheryl Kernot, Carmen Lawrence, Patrice Newell, Susan Ryan, Anne Summers, Amanda Vanstone, Wendy Whitely and Carla Zampatti. There are also interviews recorded in New York with leading feminists such as Betty Friedan, Erica Jong, Kate Millet, Gloria Steinem and Naomi Woolf.

Manuscripts and Personal Papers

The papers mostly relate to Mitchell’s books and consist of manuscripts, reviews, letters from readers, publicity material, newspaper cuttings and itineraries. There are also reviews and letters concerning her radio and television programs, copies of articles written for the Australian, and some photographs.


The Library holds photographic portraits of Mitchell taken by Greg Barrett (1993 - not yet digitised), Dean McNicoll (1997) and Bob Givens (2005).


The oral history recordings received in 1989 are held in the Oral History Collection at TRC 2470. There is a collection-level entry in the catalogue, but the interviews have not been individually catalogued. The papers are housed in the Manuscripts Collection at Acc 05/14.