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Tennant, Kathleen (Kylie) (1912–1988)

by Joyce Thompson

Kylie Tennant, by Jacqueline Mitelman, c.1988

Kylie Tennant, by Jacqueline Mitelman, c.1988

National Library of Australia, 24448661

Acclaimed Australian author Kylie Tennant would be laid to rest at her small farm in the Blue Mountains after losing a long battle with cancer, her daughter said here yesterday.

Benison Tennant, 41, said her 75-year-old mother finally succumbed to cancer on Sunday, only days after she publicly pleaded for a person's right to die.

In "The Last Letter to a Friend — from Kylie Tennant", Tennant called on friends "to with all honour" help change the Australian attitude to the terminally ill.

"We recoil from the alarming unknown, but Death needs only a legal bridle and halter", she wrote at the end of a literary career spanning 50 years.

Benison Tennant said the funeral service would be held at Christ Church St Laurence in the city on Wednesday. Her mother's ashes will be taken to Ciff View Orchard, Blackheath, where those of Benison's brother, John Laurence Rodd, are already buried.

Her mother was a caring person who escaped to the 21-hectare farm and its sheep, geese, ducks, goats and horses and employed people who couldn't find a job.

In an interview with the Sun-Herald last year, Kylie Tennant said she bought the broken-down farm when her husband was overdosing on prescribed drugs and her son on illegal drugs.

Tennant made her publishing debut in 1935 with Tiburon, a novel about a country town which won the S.H. Prior (Bulletin) Memorial Prize. The Battlers, a novel about people on the road in the Depression, won a gold medal from the Australian Literature Society in 1941 and in 1952, Tether a Dragon won first prize in the Commonwealth Jubilee Stage Play Competition.

In 1980 she was awarded the Order of Australia and last year saw the publishing of her moving autobiography, The Missing Heir.

A spokesman for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of NSW said the writer's death had been natural. "She was a supporter [of euthanasia] but her death had nothing to do with euthanasia", he said.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

Joyce Thompson, 'Tennant, Kathleen (Kylie) (1912–1988)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 26 November 2020.

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