Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Collett, A. A. (2006). Reading Kate Llewellyn's garden (books). Australian Literary Studies, 22 (4), 482-494.


Kate Llewellyn does not like her work referred to as 'garden writing' or herself as a 'garden writer', yet much of her prose (and poetry) takes the garden and gardening as its subject, and many members of her appreciative reading public would probably be surprised and puzzled by the refusal of these labels.' The blurb on the fly-leaf of Playing with Water: A Story of a Garden (2005) describes Llewellyn as 'the author of 16 books, including the bestselling The Waterlily: A Blue Mountains Journal, which has sold over 30,000 copies'. A piece tagged 'Woonona author happy in the garden' published in the Wollongong Advertiser in November 2005 notes that Playing with Water was the highest-selling book by an Australian author at that year's Sydney Writer's Festival. Llewellyn is a highly accomplished poet: books include Trader Kate and the Elephants (1982), Luxury (1985), Honey (1988), Figs (1 990), Selected Poems (1 992), Crosshatched (1 994) and Sofala and Other Poems (1999), but poetry does not sell well. Llewellyn herself, or more accurately, a textual variant of herself as letter-writer to 'Dear Caro', observes that when urged to write a new book of poetry, I sat there and thought, 'By God, I will'. I had almost given up, you know. I felt it was embarrassing to have publishers lose money on you, to need patronage and in the end I thought, who reads it and who cares for it? People say they read poetry, but the fact is not many do. (The Mountain 136)