Henry Handel Richardson

Brief Biography

Henry Handel Richardson (Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson) was born in 1870 in Melbourne, Victoria. She was born in a prosperous family which later fell on hard times. Her family lived in various towns in Victoria during her childhood and youth and she attended Presbyterian Ladies College between the ages of 13 and 17. (This experience was the basis for her novel The Getting of Wisdom.) She excelled at music during her time at PLC and her mother took the family (her father having died in 1879) to Europe to enable Ethel to continue her musical studies at Leipzig.

Ethel married J.G. Robertson in 1894 and later moved to London in 1903 where her husband has been appointed to a chair of German at the University of London. She visited Australia again in 1912 for several months before returning to England where she lived for the rest of her life.

Ethel Richardson died in 1946.


Maurice Guest 1908
The Getting of Wisdom 1910
Australia Felix 1917
The Way Home 1925
Ultima Thule 1929
The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney 1930
            Comprising the novels: Australia Felix, The Way Home and Ultima Thule
The Young Cosima 1939

Short Story Collections
Two Studies 1931
The End of a Childhood 1934
The Adventures of Cuffy Mahoney 1979
The End of Childhood: The Complete Stories of Henry Handel Richardson 1992 edited by Carol Franklin

Myself When Young 1948

Henry Handel Richardson and some of Her Sources 1954 by Leonie Kramer
Henry Handel Richardson 1961 by Vincent Buckley
Myself When Laura 1966 by Leonie Kramer
Ulysses Bound 1973 (revised 1986) by Dorothy Green
Henry Handel Richardson 1985 by Karen McLeod
Henry Handel Richardson: Fiction in the Making 1990 by Axel Clark


The Getting of Wisdom was filmed in 1977, directed by Bruce Beresford, from a screenplay by Eleanor Witcombe, and featuring Julia Blake, Terence Donovan and Kerry Armstrong.

This page and its contents are copyright 2001-06 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: January 1, 2006.