She I Dare Not Name

Donna Ward

She I Dare Not Name
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She I Dare Not Name

Donna Ward

Astonishing. Luminous. A book about being human.

She I Dare Not Name is a compelling collection of fiercely intelligent, deeply intimate, lyrical reflections on the life of a woman who stands on the threshold between two millennia. Both manifesto and confession, this moving memoir explores the meaning and purpose Donna Ward discovered in a life lived entirely without a partner and children.   

The book describes what it is like to live on the edge of a world built in the shape of couples and families. Rippling through these pages is the way a spinster - or a bachelor, or any of us for that matter - contends with the prejudice and stigma of being different.     

With courage and astounding honesty Donna uncovers the challenge of living with more solitude than anticipated and what it is like to walk the road through midlife and beyond alone. And she reveals how she found home and discovered herself within it.   

Funny, sharp, wise and wry, She I Dare Not Name shows how reading saved this spinster’s life, and how friends and writing and walking brought a contentment and sense of achievement she never thought possible.  


This is Donna Ward’s first book, but she has been writing for a long time. Her essays have appeared in all our major journals and she is known as a thoughtful and concise author. She I Dare Not Name is her compelling collection of articles about being a woman; alone, keen and compassionate. It is a memoir of sorts, the type that takes you gently through the dreamscape of the author’s life, but also one that shares the pragmatic reality of being an older woman surrounded by families and couples and expectations. To read this collection is to be privy to Donna Ward.

There are several sections within the the compilation, but a common thread progresses through each missive. Why does our society still expect women to be contained in a patriarchal landscape? Why is Australia so dreadful at accepting its own history? Why does someone else being alone make others uncomfortable, as if it’s a problem to be fixed? There are ruminations on silence, dinner parties, friendships and on why Anne Summers is the very best. It is an unashamedly a political book that wears its feminist testimonials well. It is the sort of book you read because you understand implicitly that reading this will guarantee a questioning of your own behaviour, your own biases and your own identity.

However, it is the nature of this book that one should honour; after all, not everyone is courageous enough to be this honest. And we know that not everyone is considerate enough to share that sincerity without requiring a return. Donna Ward is giving readers a gift.

Chris Gordon is the programming and events manager for Readings.

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