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Betty Roland (1903-1996)

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"Angela Air Hostess", from Girl

Betty Roland, (born Mary Isabel MacClean, Kaniva, Victoria, Australia, on 22 July 1903; died Syney, Australia, 12 February 1996), writer, married Peter Ellis Davies, and as Betty M. Davies, wrote the screenplay for Spur of the Moment (1931), the first Australian "talkie". She divorced in 1934 and moved to London with Marxist intellectual Guido Baracchi. They had a daughter, Gilda. They spent a year in Russia, Betty working on the Moscow Daily News, sharing a room with Katherine Susannah Pritchard, and smuggling literature into Nazi Germany.

Returning to Australia in 1935, she wrote a series of agit-prop plays for Communist Review. After her relationship with Baracchi broke down in 1942, she founded the New Theatre League and wrote plays for Australian radio. In the late 1940s, under the name Betty Roland, she wrote the daily comic strip The Conways for the Sydney Morning Herald, drawn by John Santry. She legally changed her name to Betty Roland in 1951, and moved to London with her daughter. She wrote articles for numerous magazines, and screenplays for the film Heights of Danger (1953) and the TV play Granite Peak (1957).

She also wrote comics during this period. Her work for Girl includes "Pat of Paradise Isle" (1953-1954), "Laura and the Legend of Hadley House" (1954), "Vicky" (1954-1958) and "Angela Air Hostess" (1958-1961), all drawn by Dudley Pout, and "The Rajah's Secret", drawn by Charles Paine. She also wrote for Swift, and may have written "Sue Carter" in Look and Learn (1954-1957).

She returned to Australia in 1961 and set up an artists' community outside Melbourne. She wrote radio plays, children's books and novels, and was a founder member of the Australian Society of Authors. Her authobiography was published in four volumes: Caviar For Breakfast (1979), The Eye of the Beholder (1984), An Improbable Life (1989) and The Devious Being (1990).

Coincidentally, Betty Roland was the name of one of "The Silent Three", a strip from School Friend first published in 1957.

ReferencesEdit

Online referenceEdit

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