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Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret &…
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Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives

by Helen O'Neill

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A biography of Florence Broadhurst, an Australian woman who had a career as a singer in various places, then ran a a dress shop, and finally, back in Australia, reinvented herself in the 70s as a high end wallpaper designer. She was a crazy, flamboyant personality whose designs are now being reproduced and have appeared in museums where she's regarded as a pioneer of Australian design. She was murdered in her studio and the crime remains unsolved (though she was known to carry large sums of money at all times and it seems likely that was the motive.)

It reminds me of the biography of P.L. Travers that I read earlier this year, another Australian who used the theater as a way to get away from her roots, and who lied about her origins and presented herself as more English than the English.

People like this make me think about the line between "reinvented herself" and "fraud". Her designs were drawn by people who worked for her, but she knew what she wanted them to do and she was was skilled at bringing design elements together. Reading the zeitgeist and producing what people wanted to buy is a skill, too.

It was mildly interesting as a story of one woman's strange life, but not great. ( )
  piemouth | Nov 27, 2011 |
the better book on Florence's life. Great Graphics and design
  msvictoria | Aug 1, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811859371, Hardcover)

In a volume as captivating as its subject, Florence Broadhurst paints an unforgettable portrait of a woman ahead of her time. To this day, mystery shrouds her myriad personae (starlet, couturier, painter) as well as her unsolved murder. One thing, however, is certain: Broadhurst's place in the history of interior decor. Recognized worldwide for her groundbreaking wallpaper patterns, this enigmatic Australian left behind a trove of exquisite work, brilliantly displayed here in the first-ever authorized biography of the design icon. Broadhurst's wallpapers out of circulation for nearly 20 years are just now being restored and sold globally to much fanfare. This amazing package showcases more than 100 never-before-published patterns and popular prints, such as those owned by Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, and Carly Simon, alongside a fascinating murder mystery.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:21 -0400)

Broadhurst was born in 1899 in Queensland. At 15, she wrote an article for her small country school that reads like a mission statement: I am resolved to do great things. By 19 she was singing her way around Australia, her remarkable contralto voice having apparently won her the chance to perform with Melba and Helpmann.… (more)

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