Women who transgress accepted cultural norms often pay a heavy price, as shown by these books by these accomplished authors. Carmel Bird (Family Skeleton), Alexandra Joel (Rosetta) and Sarah Schmidt (See What I Have Done) explore the lives of some of these resilient, controversial and fascinating women, often unearthing shocking family secrets. Join a riveting discussion that will reveal just how far we have to go to create equal standards for men and women. With Helen Pringle.

Please note: Annabel Abbs will no longer be appearing at this event.

Supported by Macquarie University.


Carmel Bird (Australian)

Bird, Carmel c Gail Hardy.jpg

Australian novelist Carmel Bird is the winner of the 2016 Patrick White Literary Award. Family Skeleton is a tragi-comic novel narrated by the skeleton in the cupboard who reveals family secrets. Carmel is also a popular teacher of fiction and memoir writing.

Alexandra Joel (Australian)

Joel, Alexandra c Juli Balla.jpg

Alexandra Joel is the author of Rosetta: A Scandalous True Story, a memoir in which she recounts the extraordinary life of her mysterious great-grandmother, a woman who captivated British and European society, beguiling famous writers and inventors, lords and ladies, princes and princesses. Alexandra is also the author of Best Dressed: 200 Years of Fashion in Australia and Parade: the Story of Fashion in Australia. Both books detail the development of fashion, style and national identity. Alexandra is a former editor of Harper’s Bazaar and of Portfolio, Australia’s first magazine for working women. She has been a contributor to a number of national magazines as well as The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald. For ten years Alexandra also practised as a counsellor and psychotherapist.

Helen Pringle (Australian)

Pringle, Helen.jpeg

Helen Pringle teaches and researches at the University of New South Wales. She writes in the areas of human rights principles and practices, particularly as they bear on the freedoms and securities of women and children, and as they concern freedom of expression and democratic participation. Her research and teaching have been widely recognised by awards in Australia and the US. She is on the executive committee of the UNSW Gendered Violence Research Network.