The Art of Rosaleen Norton


Rosaleen Norton  and Gavin Greenlees.


Sydney: Walter Glover, 1982. Facsimile reprint of the 1952 first edition. Octavo, navy blue canvas covers with gilt title on top board and spine, illustrated dust jacket, illustration repeated on endpapers, introduction to second edition by Nevill Drury, 80pp.


Rosaleen Norton (1917-1979) was born in Dunedin, New Zealand and came to Sydney, Australia with her family at the age of eight. Unconventional from an early age, Norton began drawing from the age of three, and a childhood appreciation of nature (she had a pet spider called Horatio amongst other creatures) elaborated as an adult into pantheist religious beliefs and richly pagan ideology. Openly declaring herself wiccan at a time when witchcraft was still illegal her artwork caused a storm of controversy in the straitlaced Australia of 1952. This is when Walter Glover first published The Art of Rosaleen Norton with poems by Gavin Greenlees.  Greenlees was already a relatively well known young poet when he and Rosaleen met in the late 1940s. They became lovers, but Greenlees was afflicted with mental health challenges and eventually institutionalised. Norton became reclusive in later years, avoiding media attention. After her death in 1979 Walter Glover secured the rights to re-release the book that had bankrupted him thirty years previously.


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