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Dorothy Coade Hewett (1923–2002)

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Dorothy Hewett, and her son Clancy, 1949

Dorothy Hewett, and her son Clancy, 1949

Dorothy Coade Hewett (1923-2002) writer, poet and playwright

Birth: 23 May 1923 at Perth, Western Australia, daughter of Arthur Thomas Hewett (1891-1966), farmer, and Doris Irene (Rene), née Coade (1896-1969). Both parents had been born in Victoria. Marriages: (1) 1945 at Mt Hawthorn, Perth, to Lester Lloyd (Toddy) Davies, a solicitor and Communist, born at Perth, Western Australia. They had one son, Clancy (1947-1950). (2) details unknown to Sydney-born Leslie Rowland Waring (Les) Flood, né Blood (1919-1980), a boilermaker. They had three sons. (3) about 1960 in New South Wales to Mervyn John Lilley (1919-2016), a labourer, poet and writer born in Queensland. They had two daughters. Death: 25 August 2002 at Springwood, NSW. 

  • Educated at Perth College and University of Western Australia (incomplete degree majoring in literature).
  • Joined Communist Party of Australia in Perth during World War II, worked as journalist with Workers' Star while developing her literary skills.
  • After covering the 1946 Pilbara strike wrote the famous ballad, 'Clancy, Dooley and Don McLeod'. In 1947 largely produced Workers' Star singlehanded.
  • Relations with CPA hierarchy in WA were sometimes strained by double standards of male leaders. In 1947-1948 she left her husband to move to Sydney with Les Flood, son of Industrial Workers of the World parents (Blood).
  • Active in Redfern/South Sydney branch of CPA, working in Alexandria Spinning Mills, later as nurses' aide and advertising copywriter.
  • Founder member of the Union of Australian Women, attended Conference in Defence of Children in Vienna, Austria, in 1952 also visiting Moscow and Beijing, a trip which caused her to be called before Petrov Royal Commission.
  • From 1957 she increasingly realised her potential as a writer, poet and playwright through Sydney Realist Writers Group, gradually liberating herself from ideological strictures and the anti-intellectualism of CPA.
  • Considerable literary output an authentic voice of Australian working class included thirteen plays, twelve collections of poetry and three novels, the best remembered of which is Bobbin Up (republished in 1999), as well as an evocative autobiography Wild Card (1990). Last play, Nowhere, produced October 2001.
  • Long-time resident of Blue Mountains.
  • Cause of death: breast cancer.

Dorothy Hewett, Wild card: an autobiography, 1923-1958, (Perth, 1990); Overland, 169, Summer 2002; Sydney Morning Herald, 26 August 2002, 31 August 2002; Age, 26 August 2002; Nicole Moore, Dorothy Hewett: (1923-2002), from Comrades! Lives of Australian Communists, online version in Search Foundation: 

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Citation details

'Hewett, Dorothy Coade (1923–2002)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Dorothy Hewett, and her son Clancy, 1949

Dorothy Hewett, and her son Clancy, 1949

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Davies, Dorothy Coade
  • Flood, Dorothy Coade
  • Lilley, Dorothy Coade

23 May, 1923
Perth, Western Australia, Australia


25 August, 2002 (aged 79)
Springwood, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (breast)

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.

Key Events
Key Organisations
Political Activism