Joan Lindsay

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Joan Lindsay (1925)

Lady Joan Lindsay (born November 16, 1896 in St Kilda East , Victoria , † December 23, 1984 in Melbourne , Victoria; actually Joan a'Beckett Weigall ) was an Australian writer. The former painter became known to a wide audience through the publication of her novel Picnic at Hanging Rock (English: Picnic on Valentine's Day ) in 1967. He reports on a trip to a girls' boarding school on Valentine's Day 1900, when three girls and a teacher disappeared into a rock massif without a trace. The work was successfully filmed in 1975 by Peter Weir . The last chapter of the book, withheld from the reader, was only published after the author's death in 1987.


Training and work as a painter and writer

Joan Lindsay was born in 1896 as Joan a'Beckett Weigall , daughter of Sir Theyre a 'Beckett Weigall (1860-1926) and his wife Annie Sophia Henrietta Hamilton. Her father was a highly respected attorney and later a judge, her mother was the daughter of Sir Robert Hamilton (1836–1895), Governor of Tasmania . On her father's side, Joan a'Beckett Weigall was related to the famous Australian Boyd family who made significant contributions to the arts in Australia such as painting, pottery, sculpture, architecture and literature. She grew up with two sisters and a brother and attended the Clyde Girls Grammar School in her hometown from 1911 to 1914 . After school, interrupted by World War I , Weigall enrolled in art classes at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne. From 1916 to 1918 she attended the School of Drawing there . In 1919 she studied life drawing and painting at the Art School together with the later famous painter Godfrey Miller (1893–1964).

After attending art college, Weigall had a studio on Bourke Street in Melbourne in the early 1920s, which she later shared with her friend Maie Ryan, who later became Lady Maie Casey. She exhibited her work, including landscape motifs made from oil and water colors, in local galleries and with the Victorian Artists Society. At the same time she made the acquaintance of Daryl Lindsay (1889–1976), seven years her senior, in a nearby studio. This shared her interest in painting and was the youngest son of the well-known Australian artist family Lindsay. In 1922, Weigall and Lindsay married on Valentine's Day in London and returned to Australia after a trip to Europe . While her husband pursued painting with moderate success and devoted himself to landscapes and equestrian studies, Lindsay, who took her husband's name, turned to writing after the wedding. She published her first book in 1936 under the pseudonym Serena Livingstone-Stanley. Through Darkest Pondelayo is a collection of elegant parodies from the time of British colonialism and has been compared to the humor of the Marx Brothers . From 1941 to 1956, Lindsay's husband was the director of the National Gallery of Victoria. She supported him part-time as an administrative assistant. He was knighted in 1957, and the author was now known as Lady Lindsay.

Success with "Picnic at Hanging Rock"

In 1962, Lindsay published an autobiographical story with memories from before the outbreak of World War II under the title Time Without Clocks . The book Facts Soft and Hard (1964), published two years later , which describes a visit to the United States , was also of autobiographical origin . Lindsay published her best-known work in 1967: Picnic at Hanging Rock reports on a trip to a girls' boarding school on Valentine's Day 1900, during which the three students Miranda, Marion and Irma and the math teacher Miss McCraw disappeared without a trace in the Hanging Rock massif . Despite an extensive search with sniffer dogs and trackers, only one of the three girls is found after a week. The exhausted, but almost intact Irma cannot give any explanation about the whereabouts of the teacher and her friends, who went further and further into the rock formation as if in a trance . The "impressive and fascinating work with mythical connotations" was inspired by Lindsay's school days at the Clyde Girls Grammar School , which served as a template for the Appleyard College named in the novel . The school, now known as Braemar College, moved from St Kilda to the Mount Macedon city of Macedon after Lindsay attended school in 1919. The school hosted picnic trips to Hanging Rock on a regular basis until the 1950s. The author acquired her knowledge of the area through excursions with her family, who were the godfathers of the Fitzhubert family who appeared in the novel.

Lindsay had originally given her 190-page novel a resolution when she submitted it to the then leading Melbourne publishing house, Cheshire, which had also published her two previous books. However, by mutual agreement it was decided to publish the book without the final 18th chapter and to leave the reader in the dark about the secret. As a result, some changes had to be made in earlier chapters. The hardcover edition of Picnic at Hanging Rock sold over 3,500 copies after publication, generating inquiries from readers asking for a solution to the mystery of Hanging Rock. Others researched newspaper archives believing the incident actually happened. In addition to references to newspaper reports and police reports in the text, Lindsay's foreword and the last sentence of the novel also contributed to the credibility of the story. In the preface, the author appealed to her readers to decide for themselves whether the novel is based on true facts or fiction: “Whether Picnic At Hanging Rock is fact or fiction my readers must decide for themselves. As the fateful picnic took place in the year 1900 and all the characters who appear are long since dead, it hardly seems important ". In the last sentence of the novel, Lindsay compared the insolubility of the mystery with that of the famous ghost ship Mary Celeste : "Thus the College Mystery, like that of the celebrated case of the Marie Celeste, seems likely to remain forever unsolved".

When the book appeared, critics had difficulty assigning Picnic at Hanging Rock to a genre. The Australian weekly magazine The Bulletin called the novel "too sunlit" to be able to call it a gothic novel ("Gothic"). The Australian writer Martin Boyd wrote that Lindsay's book appeared to be an allegory , but he did not know what what it meant . The Australian travel magazine Walkabout said that Picnic at Hanging Rock is not a Whodunit . Other critics called the work "mythopoetic" and saw it as a possible "classic of the macabre". Formally, the text has a number of properties that define it as a genre of fantasy . Lindsay is neither exploring another world, nor is there an obvious threat to the “possible / impossible”. In addition to the disappearance, Lindsay describes in her novel the heavily ritualized life in the boarding school, the constraints and mechanisms of oppression that the schoolgirls are exposed to separately from their families. This includes a strongly erotic relationship between one of the missing and a girl who was not allowed to take part in the picnic for disciplinary reasons. Many critics therefore see sexual oppression as the central theme of the story and the mountain as a place of sexual liberation , as "something liberating, redeeming from the sexually uptight atmosphere of the boarding school".

Film adaptation of the novel and publication of the missing chapter

In 1968 the book was published in Great Britain. 1970 Penguin-Verlag secured the rights to the paperback edition. Joan Lindsay, meanwhile, developed a strong aversion to the discussion that was being held about the lack of a conclusion to her book. She subsequently resented the omission of the last chapter and consistently refused to discuss the deeper meaning of her text. Nor did she comment on the various theories that had circulated about the characters' whereabouts , ranging from time travel to murder and cannibalism to alien abduction . In 1975 the novel by Peter Weir was filmed under the title Picnic on Valentine's Day . The "romantic horror film" with Rachel Roberts , Helen Morse and Anne-Louise Lambert in the leading roles reinforced the "unreal, incomprehensible impression of the event" through the background music with a panpipe and the soft backlit shots reminiscent of the famous photographer David Hamilton . The feature film production was in the favor of critics and audiences and was largely responsible for the international recognition of the new Australian cinema. Lindsay herself liked the film adaptation, although it also refrained from presenting the viewer with a solution to the mystery. In addition to his friend John Taylor, who negotiated the film rights together with Lindsay in Cheshire in 1972 and had been her agent since 1976, the screenwriters Cliff Green and David Williamson, film producer Pat Lovell and director Peter Weir were among the few people who had an insight into the 18th chapter received. The success of the award-winning film was carried over to the book. The novel was translated into various languages ​​and the paperback edition by Penguin Verlag was sold more than 350,000 times in Australia by the mid-1980s. The German first edition was published by Paul Zsolnay Verlag in 1994 . In 1987 the American Laura Annawyn Shamas processed the novel into a play of the same name.

In 2017 the novel was filmed again, this time as a six-part miniseries starring Natalie Dormer and Samara Weaving . The miniseries premiered at the Berlinale in February 2018 and was broadcast for the first time on Foxtel's Showcase channel in May of the same year.

In 1982 Joan Lindsay published the children's book Syd Sixpence . Two years earlier, Yvonne Rousseau had published a successful non-fiction book entitled The Murders At Hanging Rock (1980) on possible theories about the mystery of hanging rock. The Melbourne editor and short story writer had read Picnic at Hanging Rock , visited the place several times and found errors in the novel through research in archives, but was not in contact with Joan Lindsay. The novelist died in 1984 at the age of 88. In her will, Lindsay had agreed to the posthumous publication of her 18th chapter, which was two thousand words long, by her agent John Taylor. On Valentine's Day 1987, twenty years after the novel was published, it was published with a comment by Yvonne Rousseau despite protests from Taylor. The Australian publisher Angus and Robertson chose Braemar College, which served as the inspiration for the Appleyard College mentioned in the novel, as the location for the book presentation of The secret of Hanging Rock: Joan Lindsay's final chapter . There, in the presence of Lindsay's relatives and friends and members of the National Trust, the 58-page work was sold in sealed envelopes.

In the last chapter, the teacher Miss McCraw is not mentioned by name, but as a clown -Figur with a torn Calico - Calico described. The girls go further and further into the mountain as if in a trance. After taking off their corsets like Miss McCraw , they begin to float in the calm air. A "hole in space" forms as stable as a sphere, as transparent as an air bubble. An opening that is easy to walk through and yet not concave at all ”. Miss McCraw suggests transforming into small creatures and walking one by one through the break in the rock. Marion and Miranda follow her. When it is Irma's turn, a rock loosens and blocks her access. The girl hits the obstacle, crying. She sustained minor injuries to her hands and was not found until a week later, despite an intensive search, with no memory of what happened.

From 1926 until her death in 1984, Lindsay lived in her house on Mulberry Hill, south of Melbourne, on the Mornington Peninsula. The marriage with Sir Daryl Lindsay, who died in 1976, remained childless. The white cottage from the 1880s with the six hectare property, on which the author wrote her most famous novel, then became the property of the National Estate and is a listed building. Mulberry Hill has also been open to the public since the mid-1990s.

Works (selection)

  • 1936: Through Darkest Pondelayo
  • 1941: The story of the Red Cross
  • 1962: Time Without Clocks
  • 1964: Facts Soft and Hard
  • 1967: Picnic at Hanging Rock (German: Picnic on Valentine's Day )
  • 1983: Syd Sixpence


  • Joan Weigall Lindsay, Yvonne Rousseau: The Secret of Hanging Rock . Joan Lindsay's final chapter. Angus & Robertson, North Ryde, NSW 1987, ISBN 0-207-15550-X .
  • Yvonne Rousseau: The murders at Hanging Rock . Sun Books, South Melbourne 1988, ISBN 0-7251-0552-6 .
  • Janelle McCulloch: Beyond the Rock. The life of Joan Lindsay and the mystery of Picnic at Hanging Rock . Echo, April 2017
  • Terence O'Neill: Joan Lindsay: a time for everything . The La Trobe Journal, May 1, 2009

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Silas Clifford-Smith: Joan Lindsay . In: Dictionary of Australian Artists Online (accessed May 7, 2009)
  2. ^ A b Ruth Campbell: Weigall, Theyre à Beckett (1860–1926) . In: Australian Dictionary of Biography. Volume 12, Melbourne University Press, 1990, pp. 435-436.
  3. a b c d e f A. McGregor: The Secret of Hanging Rock. In: Courier-Mail. January 18, 1986.
  4. Brenda Nail, Boyd family. In: Graeme Davison, John Hirst, Stuart Macintyre (Eds.): The Oxford Companion to Australian History. Oxford University Press, 2001 (accessed May 7, 2009 via Oxford Reference Online)
  5. a b c d Lindsay, Lady Joan. In: William H. Wilde, Joy Hooton, Barry Andrews: The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. Oxford University Press, 1994 (accessed May 7, 2009 via Oxford Reference Online)
  6. Lindsay. In: Ian Chilvers (ed.): The Oxford Dictionary of Art. Oxford University Press, 2004 (accessed May 7, 2009 via Oxford Reference Online)
  7. Lindsay, Sir Daryl. In: William H. Wilde, Joy Hooton, Barry Andrews: The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. Oxford University Press, 1994 (accessed May 7, 2009 via Oxford Reference Online)
  8. Rosemary West: No picnic at Hanging Rock - a survivor's story. In: The Advertiser. 17th February 1987.
  9. ^ Marjorie R. Theobald: Knowing women: origins of women's education in nineteenth-century Australia. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge / Melbourne 1996, ISBN 0-521-42004-0 , p. 53.
  10. a b c d e Malcom Crick: Corsets, Culture and Contingency: Reflections on Joan Lindsay's Picnic at Hanging Rock. In: Mankind. 15, No. 3, December 1985, pp. 231-242.
  11. a b Picnic on Valentine's Day. In: film service . 14/1977.
  12. Barry John Watts: The Mystique of Hanging Rock. at (English; accessed May 7, 2009)
  13. Michael Cordell: Hanging Rock: The Mystery Solved. In: Sydney Morning Herald. February 14, 1987, p. 43.
  14. Picnic on Valentine's Day. In: The large TV feature film lexicon. (CD-ROM). Directmedia Publ., 2006, ISBN 3-89853-036-1 .
  15. Laura Annawyn Shamas, Joan Lindsay: Lady Joan Lindsay's Picnic at Hanging Rock: a full length play. Dramatic pub. Co., Woodstock, Ill. 1987, ISBN 0-7316-3845-X .
  16. Foxtel drama Picnic at Hanging Rock: What you need to know on on May 6, 2018
  17. a b T. Quinn: Now Hanging Rock Buffs Have Their 'Answer', The Only Ques. In: Sunday Mail. (Queensland) February 15, 1987.
  18. ^ Carmel Egan: Picnic home's a treasure. In: The Daily Telegraph. (Sydney, Australia), December 2, 1996, p. 23.
  19. Lindsay open house. In: The Australian. November 28, 1996, p. 30.