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Writing Aileen Palmer back into memory. Review of Sylvia Martin's biography, Ink in her veins: The troubled life of Aileen Palmer
journal contributionposted on 27.08.2019, 00:00 by Donna BrienDonna Brien
AILEEN Palmer was a poet and author in a wide range of other genres. She was also a linguist with an advanced grasp of a number of languages—putting this to good use in sensitive translations. A political activist, she lived and worked in Australia and overseas and both her work and her name deserve to be better known. Sylvia Martin’s beautifully written and carefully researched biography of Aileen certainly makes a major contribution to that task. The title of Martin’s biography suggests that, as the eldest daughter of two important Australian writers, Nettie Palmer and Vance Palmer, its subject was born into a writing life. This other main theme of this biography is suggested in its subtitle as not only did Aileen Palmer have “ink in her veins”, she also had a “troubled life.” These dual concerns—with her various writings and the turmoil and distresses she experienced—make for a finely balanced and nuanced life study.