Hello, Beautiful!: Scenes from a Life

Hannie Rayson

Hello, Beautiful!: Scenes from a Life
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Hello, Beautiful!: Scenes from a Life

Hannie Rayson

I realise that, despite all the references to my longing to be a writer, two things are apparent.

The first is that I don’t actually do much writing; the second is that my teenage reflections display absolutely no talent for it. My Diary is prima facie evidence of self-delusion on a grand scale.

A memoir in parts, from one of Australia’s best-loved playwrights.

Hannie Rayson-writer, mother, daughter, sister, wife, romantic, adventuress, parking-spot optimist-has spent a lifetime giving voice to others in the many roles she has written for stage and television.

In her new book, she shines the spotlight on herself. This collection of stories from a dramatic life radiate with the great warmth and humour that has made Hannie one of the best-known playwrights in the country. From a childhood in Brighton to a urinary tract infection in Spain, from a body buried under the house to a play on a tram, Hello, Beautiful! captures a life behind the scenes-a life of tender moments, hilarious encounters and, inevitably, drama.


Hannie Rayson is one of Australia’s most renowned and revered playwrights for stage and TV. Inheritance, Hotel Sorrento and Life after George all capture the quintessential contemporary Australian voice and as a result, have enjoyed successful seasons right across Australia and internationally. Ironically (and luckily for readers), Rayson was encouraged to write this book on the back of a rejection of her most recent play by the Melbourne Theatre Company.

Born Helen Rayson, she called herself Hanna Basin as a kid and that later evolved into Hannie. She grew up in Melbourne’s affluent suburb of Brighton, but her family was far from the Brighton cliché. Like most young girls who grow up wanting to be writers, Rayson kept diaries documenting mundane moments in her teenage life in order to try to capture a feeling.

Peppered throughout the book are wonderful quotes from insightful friends and influences, including Edna O'Brien’s take on writing quoted from an interview in a very old Paris Review: ‘When I say I have written from the beginning, I mean that all real writers write from the beginning, that the vocation, the obsession, is already there, and that the obsession derives from an intensity of feeling which normal life cannot accommodate.’

Hello, Beautiful! is bursting with witty anecdotes from Rayson’s childhood and intelligent insights into, among other things, leaking, balding men, step families, graffiti, awkward dinner-party moments and giving birth in the middle of the historic Victorian nurses’ strike in 1986. Rayson writes with warmth and candour about the extraordinary moments in everyday life, such as her appreciation of soup: ‘Soup is like a best friend. Most people are not looking for capriciousness or unpredictability in their chums. Most of us want a hearty and velvety friendship, characterised by comfort and intimacy, trust, worthiness and contentment.’

I share Rayson’s love of the Mornington Peninsula’s beaches and the familiar Carlton haunt of Tiamo – and its famous minestrone soup on cold and rainy days when the restaurant windows fog up and the air is thick with garlic and parmesan. Reading Rayson’s memoir nourishes your soul and draws you, like an old friend, into her personal and creative world. I encourage you to enjoy this with a glass of wine (or hearty bowl of soup) on your couch!

Emily Harms is the Head of Marketing and Communications.

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