SHEILA FLORANCE ON THE INSIDE an Intimate Portrait
Sheila Florance said with her characteristic irony, I set out aged nineteen with every intention of becoming the worlds greatest Shakespearean actress and ended up as Lizzie Birdsworth, the shearers poisoner! This much-loved character in the cult TV soapie Prisoner brought Sheila worldwide fame after fifty years of hard work during the formative years of the Australian performing arts. It culminated just days before her death at seventy-five with an Australian Film Institute Leading Actress award for her last film A Womans Tale.
Onstage and off her life was theatre on a grand scale. Everything was extravagant about Sheila in the parties she threw, her humour and tall tales, her friendships, her anger and loves. As a fighter for justice, her approach was eccentric and front-on. She wouldnt have called herself a feminist yet she always battled for and supported women.
She suffered a difficult childhood, war in England, the tragic inexplicable death of her eighteen-year-old daughter, two drama-filled marriages and a constant tension between her main passions family and acting. It was quite a journey yet Sheilas courage and determination to be true to herself never faltered. In this very personal biography, her daughter-in-law and confidante, Helen Martineau, reveals the fascinating public career and behind-the-scenes upheavals of a memorable and inspiring woman, who in her final illness found the peace that long eluded her.
I bought the book as a kind of duty to the memory of Sheila. But I simply couldnt put it down. You captured her in all her moods and complexity. Elspeth Ballantyne; warder Meg Morris in Prisoner and Sheilas long-time friend
Second updated edition first published 2005 as On the inside an Intimate Portrait of Sheila Floranceshow more