My original plan was to research and write a biography of the Australian playwright, Ray Lawler.
But it soon became evident that the sudden and overwhelming success of Lawler’s play, The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, marked both the beginning and the end of Lawler’s career.
The Doll, as it became known, had its own career as an Australian classic. When I interviewed Lawler, I was struck by the way he declined to accept the proposition that The Doll was a great Australian work or that he occupied a significant position in the history of Australian drama.
Lawler was being more than modest. He believed he had written a good play but he also believed he could not accept credit for The Doll after the play left his hands.
The story to be told, then, is not just that of Lawler’s life, but of the relationship between Lawler and The Doll. Lawler’s life was so closely linked to that of The Doll that the scope of this thesis was widened to take account of the careers of both.
The Coming of Age: an account of Ray Lawler and the Summer of the Seventeenth Doll is held at the National Library of Australia.
This thesis is cited in ‘Lola Montez’ and High Culture: The Elizabethan Theatre Trust in Post-War Australia (Richard Waterhouse, Journal of Australian Studies, Vol 21, Issue 52, 1997).