In homage to that most civilised of activities, letter writing, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire created the literary afternoons of Women of Letters. Through these salons, many of Australia’s finest dames (and some guys) have delivered missives on a series of themes. Over the years, these letters have been assembled, published and celebrated in McGuire and Hardy’s Women of Letters series of books. Here’s a rundown of just a handful of the highlights of these fabulous collections so far.
Women of Letters (2011)
The first of their hilarious, moving, outrageous, diverse and captivating tributes to the art of letter writing.
Claudia Karvan sends a love letter to love itself, Helen Garner contacts ghosts of her past, Noni Hazlehurst dispatches a stinging rebuke to her first boss, and Megan Washington pays tribute to her city and community. And some gentlemen correspondents – including Paul Kelly, Eddie Perfect and Bob Ellis – are invited to put pen to paper in letters to the women who changed their lives.
Kate Miller-Heidke writes a love letter to her twelve-year-old self, Di Morrissey recounts a dramatic encounter with a brood of chooks and a wily fox, and Ita Buttrose imagines an alternative life as an opera singer. And another range of gentlemen friends – including Shaun Micallef, Julian Burnside, Hamish Blake and David Williamson – all pen letters to the women who changed their lives.
Yours Truly (2013)
What dark gastronomic slip does Annabel Crabb have to confess to an unsuspecting guest? How did Mary Anderson change the life of Frank Woodley – despite the fact the two of them have never met? And how did a plate of steak teach Missy Higgins a firm lesson about not being too hard on herself? These writings from Australia’s favourite people are warm, wonderful and astoundingly honest.
Between Us (2014)
Bestselling novelist Hannah Kent exchanges letters about books, editing and synchronicity with her publisher Alex Craig. Intimate and outrageous declarations of love and friendship are shared between actor Rhys Muldoon and musician Kram. And award-winning cartoonist First Dog on the Moon expresses his affection for his editor Sophie Black through drawings (while she sticks to the written word).
The first international anthology in the Women of Letters series.
From Ubud, award-winning author Lionel Shriver writes with unexpected nostalgia about her days as an unknown novelist. Musician Moby pays tribute from Los Angeles to his favourite David Bowie song. Writer, actor and Rookie magazine founder Tavi Gevinson sends a dispatch from Chicago about the importance of getting stuff done instead of waiting for inspiration to hit. And much-loved and bestselling novelist Monica McInerney posts a note from Dublin about how sometimes the things that don’t happen to us can affect us as strongly as the things that do.
From the Heart (2015)
‘Letters, we have witnessed firsthand, stir some unusually beautiful things in people,’ write Women of Letters curators Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire. In From the Heart, the full power of letter-writing is on display.
Rock star Amanda Palmer thanks a song for reminding her of the importance of music, and the importance of love. Torn between wanting to encourage and wanting to warn, Senator Penny Wong tells of the ‘amazing highs and terrible lows’ of choosing a career in Australian politics. Beloved chef and author Stephanie Alexander writes of the shining moment when she received a letter from her hero Elizabeth David. And thirty years after they got married – and fifteen years since they broke up – Derryn Hinch writes with love and celebration for his dearest friend, Jacki Weaver.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (2016)
The beautiful art of letter writing is still the best way to connect, to express a thought or a feeling. In this, the seventh Women of Letters anthology, Australia’s queens of correspondence Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire have engaged our finest, sharpest minds to pen missives of courage and humour and wisdom.
Thank you for showing me that it is okay to be both a devoted mother and on a podium drenched in glitter.
Love, Em Rusciano
My life is so much more fortunate than yours was and I’m sorry if my unplanned arrival was a part of that.
Love, Anthony Albanese
Dear Leigh Sales,
What kind of psychopath is unmoved by fairy wrens?
Love, Annabel Crabb
All royalties for these books have gone to Edgar’s Mission animal rescue shelter.
A collection of correspondence from the hugely popular Women of Letters literary events.
Collected here for the first time, these dispatches from Australia's favourite people are warm, wonderful and astoundingly honest.
Between Us is an inspiring and engaging collection of all-new letters from some of Australia's best-loved people.
Uplifting, passionate and compelling, From the Heart is a wonderful new collection from your favourite Australians of note.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Women of Letters is the latest inspiring and engaging collection of all-new letters from some of Australia and New Zealand's best-loved people.