Monday, July 16, 2007
July 16: Dorothy Cottrell (1902-1957)
Certainly I would like to be able to walk, but if the good fairy of old stories offered me the one gift, the ability to walk would not be the thing I would ask for. More years with my husband than I may normally expect, the ability to write better--a dozen things--would come before it.
Ever heard of this Australian writer? I hadn't, but she was born 105 years ago today. She used a wheelchair from age 6, after surviving polio.
Cottrell's life story reads like some of the adventures and children's tales she would later write: as a little girl on her uncle's sheep farm near Toowoomba, she taught the sheep and working dogs to pull her wheelchair like a chariot. She also learned to shoot a hunting rifle, and swim, and drive a car. At 20 she married, secretly, and traveled with her bookkeeper husband around Australia. In 1928 the Cottrells moved to California, and in 1942 to Florida. Dorothy wrote popular fiction, which funded her travels, and some of her books were made into movies. It is said that she would hop a ride on any ship that would accept her with her chair, and thus made her way around the Caribbean she loved.
This month, the rare books collection at the Monash University Library has a display on Australian Women Writers, 1900-1950, and Cottrell is among the featured authors.