Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Betty Roland

Betty Roland was born Mary Isobel Maclean at Kaniva in Victoria in 1903. Over the course of her life she wrote plays, screenplays, novels, childrens books and comics. After a start in journalism during her teens, Roland wrote highly regarded plays in the twenties with her award winning play, A Touch of Silk, performed and radio broadcast many times over the years, most recently on Australia's ABC Radio National earlier this year. After the failure of her first marriage Roland booked passage to England and upon the voyage began a relationship with wealthy Marxist intellectual Guido Baracchi, one of the founders of the Australian Communist Party. After experiences in the USSR and Nazi Germany Roland's later work became agitprop and of a political nature. After separation from Baracchi in the 40's Roland supported herself and her young daughter writing radio plays and a daily comic strip, The Conways, for The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Conways was illustrated by commercial artist John Santry and ran from 10th November 1946 to the middle of 1949 when it was replaced by American strip Kit Conquest. In 1952 Roland moved to England and wrote for magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, Woman's Weekly, and Woman's Own. She also wrote adventure strips and stories for Eagle's companion comic Girl and their younger counter-part Swift. In 1951 she legally changed her name to her pen name Betty Roland.

Roland moved back to Australia in 1961 and wrote many novels in her latter years as well as helping found the Australian Society of Authors. Steve Holland at Bear Alley has an excellent article covering her work in English comics.

Angela and the Runaway Heiress from Girl Annual 1962. Written by Betty Roland and illustrated by Dudley Pout.

Sources: Steve Holland at , Panel By Panel - John Ryan, Girl Annual 1962, National Library of Australia

Thanks to Phil Rushton from the forums for tipping me off to Betty Roland

No comments: