Publication Details

Clark, M. "Storytelling permutations in the performance of life narrative: Betty Roland's Caviar for Breakfast." Transnational Literature 6 .1 (2013): 1-12.


Betty Roland (1903-1996), a little-known figure in Australian literary circles, was a prolific storyteller. Whilst there are few zones of literature into which she did not venture between the late 1920s and 1990, Roland is perhaps best remembered as a dramatist. Her Australian outback melodrama, The Touch of Silk, was first performed by the Melbourne Repertory Company in 1928, and is still produced today. Reviewers of the time described the play as ‘a beautiful and abiding piece’2 of theatre, and named Roland as Australia’s first genuine playwright. Silk’s bleak twists and far-reaching insights into authoritarian bourgeois morality, helped to make it the first among a number of successful radio serials for Roland and paved the way for later film scripts.3 Perhaps because she was a playwright rather than a novelist at the time, Roland has never been grouped with Australia’s celebrated women writers of the 1920s and 30s, such as Miles Franklin, Eleanor Dark and Katharine Susannah Prichard. Roland was, however, engaged in a burgeoning cosmopolitan print-culture that extended well beyond those years as well as Australian borders.