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Ink in Her Veins : The Troubled Life of Aileen Palmer


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Aileen Palmer – poet, translator, political activist, adventurer – was the daughter of two writers prominent in Australian literature in the first half of the twentieth century. Vance and Nettie Palmer were well known as novelists, poets, critics and journalists, and Nettie suspected that their eldest would grow up with ‘ink in her veins’.

Aileen certainly inherited her parents’ talents, publishing poetry, translating the work of Ho Chi Minh, and recording what she referred to as ‘semi fictional bits of egocentric writing’. She also absorbed their interest in leftist politics, joining the Communist Party at university. This, combined with her bravery, led to participation in the Spanish Civil War and the ambulance service in London during World War II.

The return to Australia was not easy, and Aileen never successfully reintegrated into civilian life. In ''Ink in Her Veins'' Sylvia Martin paints an honest and moving portrait in which we see a talented woman slowly brought down by war, family expectations, and psychiatric illness and the sometimes cruel ‘treatments’ common in the 20th century.

Author : Sylvia Martin.

Paperback, 350 pages, Published March 2016.

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