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Australian playwright Gwen Meredith dies

16:47 AEDT Wed Oct 4 2006
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Australian playwright Gwen Meredith, famous for writing the long running ABC Radio serial Blue Hills, has died aged 98.

Meredith's cousin, Jackie Treseder, told ABC Radio the writer had been ill for some time and died peacefully at her NSW Southern Highland home in Bowral recently.

"She had been unwell for a little while with her heart. Over the last week her health has deteriorated. She's had two cousins and a long-standing friend with her for the last week by her bedside," Ms Treseder said.

A private funeral service was held on Wednesday.

"Her wishes have been that she had a very private, peaceful, private funeral which we had today," Ms Treseder said.

Blue Hills ran for 27 years and earned Meredith a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) on June 10, 1967 for her services to radio entertainment.

More than a decade later, she was also honoured with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to the arts.

From Orange in country NSW, Meredith completed her secondary education at Sydney Girls High School and her tertiary education at the University of Sydney.

She later took a Bachelor of Arts degree.

With a love of literature, Meredith invested in her own bookstore - Chelsea Bookshop - a source of income and her writing haven from 1932 to 1938.

In the four years following the bookshop sale, she became a freelance writer and also married engineer Ainsworth Harrison.

In 1943, she started a 33-year relationship with the ABC, contracted to write radio plays, serials and documentaries.

Meredith was initially best known for writing the radio serial The Lawsons, which ran for five years and 1,299 episodes until February 5, 1949.

Three weeks later Blue Hills - a family saga about country life - was launched and lasted 5,795 episodes.

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