The sensational and little-known story of Australia 's literary great, Miles Franklin, will be revealed at the National Library when the traveling exhibition Miles Franklin: A Brilliant Career? opens on 23 April. The exhibition has been curated by Paul Brunton, Senior Curator, Mitchell Library and the tour organised by the State Library of NSW.

The talented writer, feminist, ‘socialite’ and author of the astonishing first novel My Brilliant Career was a vibrant and witty individual, but her private diaries tell a very different story of a woman plagued with depression and a deep sense of failure.

On display for the first time is a selection of Miles’ diaries, manuscripts, photographs and personal letters that she donated to the State Library of NSW.

The exhibition also highlights Miles' little-known career overseas, including her pioneering work with the Women's Trade Union League in Chicago and as a cook in Macedonia during World War I.

The National Library’s contribution to the exhibition captures Miles Franklin’s connection to the Canberra region: she was born near Tumut, and grew up and was educated at the Brindabella Homestead on the western edge of Canberra before moving to Stillwater near Goulburn. Miles’ first ever publication appeared in the Goulburn Evening Penny Post.

Material from this early period includes photographs of the family at the Brindabella Homestead, and a sampler embroidered by Miles at the age of 11.

Jan Fullerton , Director-General of the National Library, said, “ Libraries play a vital role in collecting, preserving and providing access to the personal papers of distinguished Australians.

“We are delighted to display Miles Franklin: A Brilliant Career? which will give viewers a much greater understanding of the life and times of a fascinating woman whom we know little about. It is also an excellent opportunity to work with our colleagues at the State Library of NSW and to complement their collections with our own material relating to the time she spent in this region,” she said.

Exhibition curator Paul Brunton said “ Miles was a terrible flirt who left a number of suitors broken hearted, including Banjo Paterson. After My Brilliant Career, it took her 35 years to produce another literary hit, All that Swagger, once again giving her the fame that she sought.”

Miles Franklin published 15 books in her lifetime, four posthumously, and her legacy to Australian literature is evident in the establishment of the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award - a secret gift to the nation revealed after her death.

Miles Franklin: A Brilliant Career? will be launched on Tuesday 26 April at 11 am in the foyer of the National Library.

Miles Franklin: A Brilliant Career?
National Library of Australia , Parkes Place , Canberra
23 April 2005 – 17 July 2005
Exhibition Gallery
Open daily 9am – 5pm
Free Admission

Media contact:

Yvonne Kennedy
Director Communications and Marketing
Telephone: 02 6262 1353 or 0411 753 891

James Halligan
Communications and Marketing Coordinator
Telephone: 02 6262 1160

Exhibition sponsors

Supported in Canberra by Novotel Canberra. For accommodation enquiries and bookings ( (02) 6245 5000 or Canberra Getaways 1800 100 660