Intellectual. Feminist. Polemicist. Provocateur.
This riveting biography of Germaine Greer traces the personal and political history of one of the most important, radical, and controversial women of twentieth and twenty-first century feminism. It reveals how her public persona has shifted with time from sixties trailblazer to present-day rabble-rouser, and why she endures as a subject of fascination.
This is the first biography of Greer for two decades, drawing on unprecedented access to her extensive personal archive, opened at Melbourne University in 2016. Kleinhenz has interrogated Greer's personal and professional files, spoken to people who have known her from her school days onwards, and read every word written by and about her. Beginning with Greer’s troubled early life in 1940s Melbourne, it traces her career, relationships with men and women, her travels, and her home life, and examines Greer’s work and ideas from The Female Eunuch to the #MeToo movement. The result is a rich, detailed portrait of a woman rightly both legendary and notorious — revealed here in all her glories, weaknesses, and contradictions.
‘She has produced a terrific book — even-handed and entertaining … Kleinhenz’s biography is richly human and intellectually lucid, uncontaminated by cheap psychology. She lays bare Greer’s personal flaws, cruelties and venomous tongue, but her quiet triumph is to balance them with the majestic achievements.’
Melanie Reid, The Times
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‘The Greer that emerges is a complex character whose powers of insight and invention are consistently confounded by her enthusiasm for controversy. Kleinhenz’s achievement is to have produced a sympathetic, thoroughly readable portrayal of an ultimately unsympathetic figure.’
Lorna Finlayson, The Guardian
‘Greer will no doubt scream at this biography … Kleinhenz holds her nerve and has made good use of the recently opened Greer Archive at the University of Melbourne.’
Lynn Barber, The Oldie
‘How lucky we are that Elizabeth Kleinhenz has mustered the courage to write a biography of a woman who is famous for hating those who attempt such a task! She has written an engaging, nuanced and carefully researched book not just about Germaine Greer but about the societies she has shaped and shocked over the decades. Trust me, you don’t have to be a fan of Germaine Greer to thoroughly enjoy this book.’
‘Elizabeth Kleinhenz, a former teacher, deserves a bravery medal for writing this biography … [Greer] has had many identities, often concurrently. Kleinhenz shows us Greer the Shakespeare scholar; the wit; the academic who wrote provocative articles for Oz; the “starf***ker” (Greer’s term), who seduced famous men; and the “bully who could be extraordinarily kind” (she would invite society’s strays to stay in her home).’
Rosamund Urwin, The Sunday Times
‘Kleinhenz’s approach is as imaginative as it is conventionally linear. Using interviews with key figures as well as the archive material, she tracks Greer's life from its beginnings in January 1939. Hers is a well-rounded, sympathetic portrait of a remarkable human being, in a narrative that grips from the start. I'm in no position to predict how Greer will respond to this newly unauthorised account of her life, but I found it utterly fascinating.’
Sara Dowse, The Sydney Morning Herald
‘[A]n informative look at Greer's cultural impact.’