‘Chatter about Harriet’: Randolph Stow’s place-making and 'The Suburbs of Hell'



Randolph Stow, expatriate literature, place-making


Randolph Stow’s ‘English’ novels, The Girl Green as Elderflower (1980) and The Suburbs of Hell (1984) offer complex representations of space in text, which layer narrative and memory each over the other to inform the known setting. The resulting conceptualisation of place holds at its centre a transnational fluidity, which, when combined with the overt textual links between the stories and Stow’s own life, suggests a unique practice of place-making within his writing as an oeuvre. Reading Stow’s The Suburbs of Hell along these lines suggests it has a greater connection to a more general consideration of Australian narratives of place that might be assumed given its English setting. But what is specifically functioning within Stow’s writing practice to create places which embody this transnational mutability? This paper will examine Stow’s practice in writing for the purpose of understanding the manner in which the text constructs its setting, and whether or not reading these connections between Stow’s life and the text are productive of a cognizance of place-making in terms of writing practice.

Author Biography

Kate Noske, University of Western Australia

Catherine Noske is a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Western Australia, and editor of Westerly Magazine.


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---. The Girl Green as Elderflower. London: Secker and Warburg, 1980.

---. The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea. London: McDonald and Co., 1965.