Monash University Publishing: Advancing knowledge

The Shelf Life of Zora Cross

By Cathy Perkins


A rare gem. This is biography at its best: boldly conceived and brilliantly written. In spare, haunting prose Cathy Perkins rescues Zora Cross from oblivion, re-establishing Cross as one of Australia’s most remarkable literary figures. We see Zora’s life through the stories of her relationships with others. The person that emerges–possessed by an irrepressible hunger to write and to be published–is impossible to pin down. In Perkins’s hands, Zora Cross dances vividly before our eyes.
— Mark McKenna

Poet and journalist Zora Cross burst onto the Australian literary scene in 1917 with her book Songs of Love and Life. Here was a young woman who looked like a Sunday school teacher, celebrating sexual passion in a provocative series of sonnets. She was hailed as a genius, and many expected her to endure as a household name alongside Shakespeare and Rossetti. While Cross’s fame didn’t last, she kept writing through financial hardship, personal tragedies and two world wars, producing a remarkable body of work. Her verse, prose and correspondence with the likes of Ethel Turner, George Robertson (of Angus & Robertson) and Mary Gilmore place Zora Cross among the key personalities of Australia’s literary world in the early twentieth century.

About the Author

Cathy Perkins edits the award-winning SL magazine and other publications at the State Library of New South Wales. She has worked as a book editor, in a bookshop, and for the Australian Society of Authors. Her essays on Zora Cross have been published in Meanjin.

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries, please contact our Marketing Coordinator, Sarah Cannon.