My Brilliant Career
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One of the most important books in Australian literature, <em>My Brilliant Career</em> launched Miles Franklin's literary career when she was twenty-two years old—with some help from the better-established writer Henry Lawson. It has since propelled the careers of dozens of Australian writers through the Miles Franklin Award she founded and the Stella Prize she inspired.
Sybylla Melvyn is a plucky girl growing up in rural Australia in the 1890s. Bad luck and poor business decisions reduce her family to subsistence level, her father begins to drink excessively, and Sybylla struggles to deal with the inescapable monotony of her life. To her relief, she is sent to live on her grandmother's property, where life is more comfortable. There she meets wealthy young Harry Beecham, who loves her and proposes marriage, but Sybylla doubts that he could really love her. When her father's drinking sinks her family into debt, she is sent to work for one of his creditors. She finds life there unbearable and suffers a physical breakdown, which leads her back to the family home. When Harry Beecham returns to ask Sybylla to marry him, she concludes that she would only make him unhappy and sends him away, determined never to marry and still hoping for a brilliant career as a writer.