One of the most memorable characters in Australian fiction, Laura Rambotham, aged twelve, enters the portals of an exclusive girls' school eager to be accepted. But this precocious country girl is snubbed and ridiculed by her fellow students, who are richer, more attractive and more adept at dealing with life's hypocrisies. The Getting of Wisdom, a wicked and satirical vel on the pain and confusion of growing up, first appeared in 1910. A century later it has lost ne of its bite. In her splendid introduction Germaine Greer describes this classic as 'Richardson's only great book precisely because the subject is, like the rest of us, ordinary, and therefore deeply important'.
Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson was sent to board at the Presbyterian Ladies College in 1883 - an experience that provided material for her novel The Getting of Wisdom. She published her first novel, Maurice Guest, in 1908. She took the pen name of Henry Handel Richardson and used it for all of her books. Richardson made her only journey back to Australia in 1912 to complete her research for the trilogy that would become The Fortunes of Richard Mahony. Her final novel The Young Cosima appeared in 1939. Henry Handel Richardson died in Sussex in 1946.