My Accidental Career by Brenda Niall
Australia’s leading biographer Brenda Niall, now in her nineties, turns the spotlight on her own story in this fascinating memoir of a remarkable life and career
Brenda Niall, arguably Australia’s foremost biographer, looks back on her own life and the circumstances, events and choices that shaped her career.
My Accidental Career spans nine decades, from her childhood in the Melbourne suburb of Kew-where powerful neighbours included prime minister Menzies, millionaire gambler John Wren and Archbishop Daniel Mannix-to her university days, her first job writing reviews for a magazine and her travels in Ireland after breaking off her engagement to a suitable young man. It’s a lively account of academic life at the newly established Monash University in the 1960s, a time when women were rare in university departments and even more rarely promoted, the snakes and ladders ups and downs of her time in the US, and of her charting new territory in Australian biography with acclaimed works on artists, writers and leaders.
Brenda Niall’s career isn’t one of struggle against the odds in a man’s world but one of quiet, confident work that couldn’t be ignored. Her Jane Austen-like wit and elegant prose enlivens this story of Australian women’s history seen through the lens of her remarkable life.