Renowned biographer Hazel Rowley dies

I recently had the pleasure of reading Hazel Rowley’s wonderful biography of the Roosevelts, Franklin and Eleanor, in preparation for our panel in Perth this weekend. Last week I was notified that Rowley was ill, and that she wouldn’t be able to attend the festival. I hoped that it wasn’t serious and that she would pull through.

Sadly, Hazel Rowley has passed away, at the young age of 59, in New York. Stephen Romei has done a write-up in the Australian, where he informs us that Rowley ‘had been on life support after suffering a series of strokes and heart attacks late last week. Her brother and sister, who flew to New York to be at her bedside, were with her at the end.’

Rowley’s other books were also biographies, all acclaimed, of Christina Stead, Richard Wright, and Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. You can find out more about them on her website.

My thoughts are with her family and friends, and I’m sure we will all be feeling her absence this weekend at the festival.

4 thoughts on “Renowned biographer Hazel Rowley dies

  1. A tragedy. Hazel was in her prime.

    We were friends (and colleagues) for 30 years.

    The Age and Australian published generous obits- there is still a literary presence there….

    I knew she wouldn’t be mentioned on the news. As she lay dying.The TV and radio news seemed even more crass than usual. A polly or two platitudinising, celebrity dickheads blabbing and rehabbing, endless sporting trivia…and that was the ABC. Footballers knees, groins, achilles, knees, groins, necks, knees and knees. The season hasn’t started yet.

    Hazel left Australia for good in the 90s for two main reasons- the corporate takeover of the universities and the sheer banality of Australian intellectual life. She got huge publisher’s advances for her biogs of Richard Wright, de Beauvoir/Sarte and the Roosevelts. Far more recognition abroad than at home.

  2. Wow, I can’t believe I missed this very sad news.

    I don’t have any great or long-standing relationship with Hazel Rowley, I was just a student she taught at Deakin University back in the early-mid 1990s.

    At the time I found her dazzlingly brilliant in terms of her intellect and a bit blessed that she was actually teaching/instructing us somewhat callow lit students!

    Unbelievably brilliant. I only really learnt of her brilliant biogs after I’d graduated to be honest (silly callow lit student I am!). Really sad news.

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