Joan à Beckett Lindsay (16 November 189623 December 1984), also known as Lady Lindsay, was an Australian novelist, playwright, essayist, and visual artist. Trained in her youth as a painter, Lindsay published her first literary work in 1936 at age forty under a pseudonym, a satirical novel titled ''Through Darkest Pondelayo''. Her second novel, ''Time Without Clocks'', was published nearly thirty years later, and was a semi-autobiographical account of the early years of her marriage to artist Daryl Lindsay. In 1967, Lindsay published her most celebrated work, ''Picnic at Hanging Rock (novel), Picnic at Hanging Rock'', a historical fiction, historical Gothic fiction, Gothic novel detailing the vanishing of three schoolgirls and their teacher at the site of a monolith during one summer. The novel sparked critical and public interest for its ambivalent presentation as a Non-fiction, true story as well as its vague conclusion, and is widely considered to be one of the most important Australian literature, Australian novels. It was adapted into a Picnic at Hanging Rock (film), 1975 film of the same name. She was also the author of several unpublished play (theater), plays, and contributed essays, short stories, and poetry to numerous journals and publications throughout her career. After the death of Lindsay's husband in 1976, she spent her time involved in the local art community in Melbourne, and was involved in several exhibitions. Her last published work, ''Syd Sixpence'' (1982), was her first and only work of children's fiction, children's literature. Lindsay died of stomach cancer in 1984, after which her home was donated to the Australian National Trust; the Lindsay estate now operates as a museum with her and her husband Daryl's artwork and personal effects.

Life and career

Early life

Joan à Beckett Weigall was born in St Kilda East, Victoria, St Kilda East, Victoria (Australia), Victoria, Australia, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Melbourne, the third daughter of Theyre à Beckett Weigall, a prominent judge. His cousin, William Arthur Callendar à Beckett, was father to Emma Minnie Boyd and thus Lindsay was related to the Boyd family including writer Martin Boyd. Her mother, Ann Sophie Weigall (née Hamilton), was the daughter of the Scotland, Scottish born Robert Hamilton (civil servant), Sir Robert Hamilton, a Governor of Tasmania; she was a musician born and raised in Dublin. Lindsay had two sisters, Mim and Nancy, and a brother, Theyre Jr. Lindsay spent her early years in a mansion called "St Margaret's", at 151 Alma Road, East St Kilda. She described her childhood as "outwardly happy and uneventful." In 1909 at the age of thirteen, Lindsay was sent to a local boarding school, then called Carhue, to complete her education. During Lindsay's time there the school went through a change in ownership and was renamed the Clyde Girls' Grammar School; she was a model student. The school was relocated to near Mount Macedon, five years after Joan's final year. After graduating from Clyde, Lindsay considered becoming an architect, but decided to study art instead, enrolling at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School in Melbourne in 1916. There, while studying painting, she was educated by Lindsay Bernard Hall, Bernard Hall and Frederick McCubbin. In 1920 she began sharing a Melbourne studio with Maie Casey, Baroness Casey, Maie Ryan (later Lady Casey). Joan exhibited her watercolours and oils at two Melbourne exhibitions in 1920, one of which was titled "The Neo-Pantechnicists" and exhibited with the Victorian Artists Society. She and Casey also collaborated on an unfinished book together, titled ''Portrait of Anna''.

Marriage to Daryl Lindsay; early works

While studying at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School, she met fellow art student Daryl Lindsay. The two married in Marylebone, London, England on Valentine's Day, St. Valentine's Day 1922. The day was always a special occasion for her, and she set her most famous work, ''Picnic at Hanging Rock (novel), Picnic at Hanging Rock'', on St. Valentine's Day. When the couple returned to live in Australia, they renovated a farmhouse in Baxter — Mulberry Hill (Langwarrin South, Victoria), Mulberry Hill—and lived there until the Great Depression forced them to take up more humble lodgings in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Bacchus Marsh, renting out their home until the economic situation improved. During this time, Lindsay shifted her focus from painting to writing, and wrote two plays, both of which explored the uncanny and the macabre— ''Cataract'', and ''Wolf!'', the latter of which was a collaboration with Margot Goyder and Ann Joske, both of whom were Australia's best-known detective story writers at the time. Though neither of the plays were published, ''Wolf!'' was performed on stage in Swanage, England in May 1930. After returning from travel in England and Europe, Lindsay published her first novel, ''Through Darkest Pondelayo, Through Darkest Pondelayo: An account of the adventures of two English ladies on a cannibal island'', in 1936, under the pseudonym Serena Livingstone-Stanley. Published by Chatto & Windus in the United Kingdom, the novel is structured as a parody of popular travel books of the time but filled with intentional grammatical errors, also functioning as a satire on English tourists abroad. According to Lindsay's cousin Martin Boyd, the novel was "one of the best collections of malapropisms in the English language." Lindsay helped Boyd write the outline for his novel, ''Nuns in Jeopardy'' (1940). Lindsay also contributed articles, reviews and stories to various magazines and newspapers on art, literature and prominent people. In 1928, she interviewed actress Margaret Bannerman for Victoria's ''The Courier (Ballarat), The Weekly Courier'', and, in 1941, co-authored the ''History of the Australian Red Cross'' with husband Daryl. In 1942, Lindsay published an essay of literary criticism on novelist George Moore (novelist), George Moore in ''The Age'', titled "A Modern of the Nineties. George Moore: literary craftsman." During this period, Daryl Lindsay abandoned painting to become Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, a position he held between 1942 and 1955. The position necessitated their relocation to Melbourne until his retirement. They retained their country home during their Victoria sojourn. When Daryl was knighted in 1956, Joan became known as Lady Lindsay. Her semi-autobiographical novel ''Time Without Clocks'' describes her wedding and idyllic early married life. The work takes its title from a strange ability which Joan described herself as having, of stopping clocks and machinery when she came close. The title also plays on the idea that this period in her life was unstructured and free. This was followed with ''Facts Soft and Hard'', a humorous, semi-autobiographical account of the Lindsays' travels in the United States while Daryl was on a Fulbright Program, Fulbright Award, which took the couple to New York City on a study tour of American art collections held by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Corporation.

''Picnic at Hanging Rock''

''Picnic at Hanging Rock (novel), Picnic at Hanging Rock'', published in 1967, is Lindsay's best known work. Lindsay wrote the novel over a four-week period at her home Mulberry Hill in Baxter, Victoria, Baxter, on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, and constructed it around the real-life Hanging Rock, Victoria, Hanging Rock, a monolith that had fascinated her since her childhood. She compared the story to the work of Henry James, citing the "book about the children in a haunted house with a governess" (''The Turn of the Screw''). (Excerpt available o
The novel is historical fiction, though Lindsay dropped hints that it was based on an actual event, and is framed as such in the novel's introduction. An ending that explained the girls' fates, in draft form, was excised by her publisher prior to publication. The final chapter was published only in 1987 as a standalone book titled ''The Secret of Hanging Rock'', and also included critical commentary and interpretive theories on the novel. Lindsay based Appleyard College, the setting for the novel, on the school that she had attended, Clyde Girls Grammar School (Clyde School), at East St Kilda, Melbourne—which in 1919 was transferred to Woodend, Victoria, in the immediate vicinity of Hanging Rock. In a 1974 interview, Lindsay addressed readers' and critics' questioning about the novel's ambiguous conclusion, saying:
Well, it was written as a mystery and it remains a mystery. If you can draw your own conclusions, that's fine, but I don't think that it matters. I wrote that book as a sort of atmosphere of a place, and it was like dropping a stone into the water. I felt that story, if you call it a story—that the thing that happened on St. Valentine's Day went on spreading, out and out and out, in circles.
The novel's ambiguous conclusion led to significant interest from both public and critical readers, and the novel has drawn comparisons from literary critics to the work of E.M. Forster and Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was made into a 1975 Picnic at Hanging Rock (film), feature film by producers Patricia Lovell, Hal and Jim McElroy, and director Peter Weir, which was hailed as initiating the Australian New Wave, revival of Australian cinema. A re-printing of the novel in 1975 by Penguin Books in Australia sold over 350,000 copies, making it Penguin Australia's best-selling novel to date (second, overall, only to Albert Facey's autobiography, ''A Fortunate Life'').

Later life and death

In 1969, Lindsay suffered severe injuries in a car accident and she required months of convalescence. Daryl Lindsay died on Christmas Day 1976. Lady Lindsay's later years were spent invested in visual arts, with frequent visits to the Lyceum Club (Australia), Lyceum Club in Melbourne, and to the McLellan Galleries, McClelland Gallery in Langwarrin, where she was involved in the local art community. She painted several works in her later years, and she was lauded by the art critic, Alan McLeod McCulloch, Alan McCulloch. In 1972, she reunited with Maie Casey, Baroness Casey, Lady Maie Casey and held an art exhibition at the McLelland in Langwarrin. Artist Rick Amor and his children, who had lived in a cottage of Lindsay's property, led her to resurrect an unpublished children's book she had written, titled ''Syd Sixpence'', which she published in 1982. Amor supplied illustrations for the book, which tells the story of Syd, an anthropomorphic Sixpence (Australian), sixpence coin's adventures on the ocean floor. Lindsay also worked on another novel, entitled ''Love at the Billabong'', which was left unfinished. Lindsay died of stomach cancer at Peninsula Private Hospital in Frankston, Victoria, Frankston, Melbourne on 23 December 1984. She was cremated, and her ashes are interred at Creswick Cemetery in Creswick, Shire of Hepburn in Victoria, Australia. Because the Lindsays had no children, their Mulberry Hill home in Langwarrin South, Victoria was donated at her wishes to the National Trust upon her death. The Mulberry Hill estate is open to the public for self-guided tours, and contains both Joan and Daryl Lindsay's original artwork and personal possessions. Lindsay's visual artwork has been exhibited posthumously as part of the National Women's Art Exhibition in Australia.


Bibliography adapted from the State Library Victoria archive.


* ''Through Darkest Pondelayo'' (1936) * ''Time Without Clocks'' (1962) * ''Facts Soft and Hard'' (1964) * ''Picnic at Hanging Rock (novel), Picnic at Hanging Rock'' (1967) * ''The Secret of Hanging Rock'' (excised final chapter to ''Picnic at Hanging Rock'', published posthumously in 1987) * ''Syd Sixpence'' (1982)

Short stories

*''Holiday'' (1923) *''Yellow Roses'' (1924) *''The Awakening'' (1924) *''Good with Cats'' (1980)

Journal contributions

Unpublished works

Plays *''Wolf!'' (1930) *''Spring Tangle'' () *''Cataract'' (1940) *''My Kingdom for a Chocolate Blancmange! A tragedy in fifty thousand acts. With apologies to William Shakespeare, Thornton Wilder and some very fine artists'' (1948) *''Floreat Anglesea'' (1950) *''This Modern Art'' (1951) Novels and memoirs *''Love at the Billabong'' (1978); novel, unfinished *''Alma Road'' (1979); autobiography, unfinished *''Love and Information'' (1982); novella

See also

*Tasmanian Gothic *Hanging Rock, Victoria



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External links

Joan Lindsay profile
Australian Dictionary of National Biography
Lady Joan Lindsay profile
''Design & Art Australia Online''

Brighton General Cemetery website {{DEFAULTSORT:Lindsay, Joan 1896 births 1984 deaths 20th-century Australian novelists Australian women novelists Australian women painters Australian essayists Australian poets Deaths from cancer in Victoria (Australia) Deaths from stomach cancer Writers from Melbourne 20th-century Australian women writers 20th-century essayists