QUEANBEYAN has become embroiled in a cultural stoush with northern neighbour Goulburn this week following the surprise inclusion of great Australian writer Miles Franklin in the Queanbeyan Cultural Honours Gallery last month.
Ms Franklin was born in the Snowy Mountains at Talbingo, but spent her formative years in the Goulburn district, where she wrote her major work My Brilliant Career, before moving to the United States in 1906.
That makes her a Goulburn identity, according to Goulburn playwright David Cole, who founded the Miles Franklin Writing Group in Goulburn in 2004, and named his daughter Stella, Ms Franklin’s original first name.
“It’s a bit tenuous,” he said of Queanbeyan’s claim. “She definitely grew up in Goulburn.”
“It’s like them claiming George Lazenby. He was born here and grew up here (in Goulburn), and Queanbeyan claim him because he was there for a month or two,” Mr Cole said.
The Goulburn Post vented its outrage at Queanbeyan’s bold claim to Miles Franklin in its Wednesday paper this week. However Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall said Miles Franklin was a worthy inclusion in the cultural gallery, because Brindabella Station was within the Queanbeyan jurisdiction in 1879 when the writer was born, despite being approximately 60 kilometres to Queanbeyan’s west.
“Brindabella Station (Franklin’s early childhood home) was in the Queanbeyan jurisdiction at the time and so it is with great pride that we include the outstanding Stella Maria Miles Franklin in our list of cultural honours,” he said.
Miles Franklin aficionado and Goulburn playwright Jennifer Lamb turned Ms Franklin’s early life into a play last year for Goulburn’s Leider Theatre, and said that the writer would have been very familiar with the Queanbeyan region.
“She certainly knew Queanbeyan, and I think in one of her books that wasn’t published, Old Blastus of Bandicoot, she has it partially set in Queanbeyan,” Ms Lamb said.
“Our claim on her, apart from the fact that she lived 22 kilometers from Goulburn at Thornford, is that she wrote My Brilliant Career while living in the Goulburn district. And the editor of the then Goulburn Evening Penny Post was really her writing mentor and helped her a lot in getting the publication of My Brilliant Career,” she said.
Miles Franklin published My Brilliant Career in 1901. She left Australia in 1906 and spent 25 years in the US, returning home to the Sydney region in 1932. She passed away in September 1954, aged 74.
Her portrait hangs in the new Queanbeyan Cultural Honours Gallery at The Q, alongside 19 other local artists and cultural leaders.