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Barbara Janice Hanrahan (1939–1991)

The Australia art and literature worlds are mourning this week the death of prominent South Australian author and artists, Barbara Hanrahan, who died on Sunday. 

Born in 1939 and raised at Thebarton, Ms Hanrahan was well known for her artwork and her largely autobiographical novels on daily life. 

Ms Hanrahan attended the SA School of Art from 1957 to 1960 and taught print-making at the school until 1963, when she began studying at London’s Central School of Art.

Maori art and the designs on playing cards were strong influences in her prints. 

Her artwork was exhibited in many countries, including London, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Scotland, Canada and the United States. 

Ms Hanrahan’s artwork was also represented in galleries throughout the country, including the Australian National Gallery. 

As an author, Ms Hanrahan concentrated on the everyday details of life, recording in particular the minute details of Adelaide. By the late 1960s, her work as a novelist started to claim most of her time. 

Her first novel, The Scent of Eucalyptus, was written in London when she was 31. 

The Arts Minister, Ms Levy, said yesterday Ms Hanrahan’s work had ‘perfectly encapsulated’ the feeling of Adelaide in the 1930s and 1960s. 

‘I feel part of my childhood has gone with her death,’ said Ms Levy. 

Ms Hanrahan is survived by her partner, Adelaide sculptor Mr Jo Steele, with whom she had lived for many years.

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Citation details

'Hanrahan, Barbara Janice (1939–1991)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Barbara Hanrahan, n.d.

Barbara Hanrahan, n.d.

State Library of South Australia, 961/​30/​1/​17

Life Summary [details]


6 September, 1939
New Mile End, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


1 December, 1991 (aged 52)
North Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (not specified)

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.