About Jacquie

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Jacqueline Kent is… a writer of non-fiction and biography, fiction, general articles and literary journalism. Her working background includes radio interviewing, print journalism, radio and TV scriptwriting, editing books, ghostwriting, teaching editing and creative writing, and arts administration.
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Beyond Words Book Launch at Gleebooks

Jacqueline Kent – Beyond Words – Thursday 7th February

In conversation with Caroline Baum

Thursday 7th February, 6pm for 6.30pm

RSVP at Gleebooks.com.au

A Certain Style: Beatrice Davis, A Literary Life


Beatrice Davis, 1909-1992, was Australia’s most acclaimed book editor. In her forty-year career with Angus and Robertson, she discovered and nurtured the talents of countless writers, including Thea Ashley, Patricia Wrightson, Xavier Herbert and Hal Porter. She was the bridge connecting Miles Franklin and Tim Winton. Her position as a judge of major literary prizes reinforced her pivotal role in this country’s culture. As well as telling her story, and those of her authors, including some of this country’s most notable literary eccentrics, the book traces the rise, decline and fall of Angus and Robertson, Australia’s premier publishing house for more than a century.

This account of a fascinating era in Australian publishing and literature won the National Biography Award in 2001. It has now been reissued with a new preface and updates throughout, introducing a new generation of readers to Beatrice Davis and the world she knew.

‘A sharp-eyed and warm-hearted biography … the pleasure of Davis’ company is further enlivened by Kent’s own quietly witty take on her material.’

Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Age

‘The details of this book are fascinating and a rich resource.’ Peter Rose, Australian Book Review

‘A simply splendid biography of the formidable, maddening, generous, always enchanting Beatrice Davis.’ Ruth Park

‘Jacqueline Kent catches the sight and the sound of Beatrice Davis so well that, in reading this exhilarating biography of Australia’s first and greatest full-time book editor, I kept hearing her cutglass voice in the background.’ Barry Oakley, The Australian

‘A Certain Style is a wonderful, warm, rich and totally enjoyable biography about an undoubted lady once referred to by her long-time friend Hal Porter as ‘always being attracted to the devil in the basement’ while novelist D’Arcy Niland summed her up as ‘a gentlewoman… and she’s a little beaut, too!’, Janet Mawdesley, Blue Wolf Reviews

Review of Take Your Best Shot ...

This succinct, clear-sighted review of Julia Gillard’s three years as prime minister suggests history will judge her leadership more kindly than she was judged during her time in power.

An add-on to Kent’s 2009 biography The Making of Julia Gillard [in fact, it’s a completion of the 2010 update The Making of Julia Gillard Prime Minister], this gives us a portrait of a woman of composure and resilience gifted with an ability to get things done in the face of overwhelming odds. Despite hostility from the media and opposition, and hamstrung by a hung parliament, Gillard achieved the highest rate of passing legislation of any prime minister in our history.

Her refusal, Kent says, to bag the media — especially the unrelenting negativity of the Murdoch press — ‘verged on the heroic’. Kent doesn’t shy away from Gillard’s weaknesses — ‘misguided communication, less than adroit political timing and some decisions that needlessly antagonised sections of the electorate’ — but keeps them in perspective.

Fiona Capp, Sydney Morning Herald, September 14-15, 2013: Pick of the Week

Available now ...

Take Your Best Shot cover

Price: $9.99

No Australian prime minister has had to face such a difficult and challenging political environment as did Julia Gillard. Her impressive legislative record was overshadowed by pitched battles with jealous rivals and a remarkably hostile media, as well as her own struggles to communicate effectively with the public. Following her successful The Making of Julia Gillard, award-winning biographer Jacqueline Kent analyses our first woman prime minister’s tumultuous term in office, drawing on a range of views and including an exclusive new interview with Gillard herself. Take Your Best Shot is an insightful, revelatory and immensely readable account of Julia Gillard’s leadership – and its abrupt ending.





Independent? Seriously?

It’s axiomatic that if anyone or anything has to insist on a particular quality, they no longer have it. (Stale biscuits are called fresh on the packet, adulterous spouses insist on their fidelity.) At the moment, nowhere is this truer than in the case of the Sydney Morning Herald. Having over the past few months joined a large part of the mainstream media in helping Tony Abbott run his election campaign, its masthead states in tasteful capitals: ‘Independent. Always’.

For me the last straw, almost, came on Monday 26 August. Kevin Rudd, reported to have abandoned a briefing on the situation in Syria so he could film an episode of the ABC-TV show Kitchen Cabinet, described this as ‘100 per cent false’ and said that if the Herald had bothered to contact his office, they would have confirmed this. The episode was reported under the headline ‘The dummy spit’.

Which is manifestly unfair, not to mention a bit on the trivial side. Not that I have any brief for Kevin Rudd: the events of the last three years have clearly shown the kind of man he is. If he’d given the focus and commitment to governing that he did to undermining his own party and Julia Gillard — aided and abetted by the media, including the SMH —  the ALP would never have needed to replace him as PM three years ago.

But saddest is the decline of the Herald, the paper that my Dad, and others of his generation, treated with the respect accorded Holy Writ. Now it follows the Murdoch press down the rabbit hole of inconsequentiality:  it gives few details of party policies, very little analysis. It’s all bells and whistles and photo opportunities. And if you should want to know how and why this has happened, I recommend Colleen Ryan’s splendid The Rise and Fall of Fairfax. Salutary reading.