Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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Exhibitions

  • Faith, Hope and Charity Australian Women and Imperial Honours: 1901-1989

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Meredith, Gwenyth (Gwen) Valmai (1907 - 2006)

OBE, MBE, BA

Born
18 November 1907
Orange, New South Wales, Australia
Died
2006
Occupation
Playwright and Author
Alternative Names
  • Harrison, Gwen (married name)

Summary

Gwen Meredith was the writer of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio serial Blue Hills. On 10 June 1967 she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to radio entertainment and on the 11 June 1977 an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to the Arts.

Details

Daughter of George and Florence Meredith, Gwen completed her secondary education at Sydney Girls High School and her tertiary education at the University of Sydney, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts. From 1932 - 1939 she was the owner of the Chelsea Bookshop (which led to the development of the Chelsea Drama Club) before working as a freelance writer for four years.

In 1943 Gwen Meredith commenced a 33-year relationship with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, contracted to write radio plays, serials and documentaries. For five years she wrote for radio serial The Lawsons, highlighting the problems of rural Australia in wartime. Her next serial, Blue Hills, depicted rural life in the wheat belt, the high country and the red centre, and ran for 5795 episodes over 27 years: 'During the high noon of radio's golden era', claims Richard Begbie in the Canberra Times, 'it was estimated that nearly half the Australian radio sets operating on 1pm weekdays were tuned to Blue Hills.'

Gwen Meredith married engineer Ainsworth Harrison on 24 December 1938. She enjoyed gardening and painting, as well as bush-walking and fly-fishing with her husband. Her publications include: Wives Have Their Uses (1944); Great Inheritance (1946); The Lawsons (1948); Blue Hills (1950); Beyond Blue Hills (1953), Inns and Outs (with husband Ainsworth Harrison) (1955) and Into the Sun.

Sources used to compile this entry: Arnold, John and Morris, Deirdre (eds), Monash Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Australia, Reed Reference Publishing, Port Melbourne (Vic.), 1994, 568 pp; Herd, Margaret (ed.), Who's who in Australia 2002, 38 edn, Crown Content, Melbourne, 2002, 2020 pp; Richard Begbie, 'Obituary - Gwen Meredith', Canberra Times, 14 October 2006.

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Meredith, Gwen Papers [manuscript], 1938 - 1987, MS 6789; Meredith, Gwenyth (Gwen) Valmai (1907 - 2006); National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room

  • [Biographical cuttings on Gwen Meredith, author]; National Library of Australia Newspaper Microcopy Reading Room. Details

Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/IMP0155b.htm

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