The playwright and novelist Ellen Dymphna Cusack, born in 1902, graduated from the University of Sydney in 1925. Despite being of fragile health, she taught in schools across country NSW for almost 20 years. She published her first novel, Jungfrau, in 1936.
Cusack's first literary collaboration - Pioneers on Parade (1939) - was with Miles Franklin. After retiring, she wrote Come in Spinner (1951) with Florence James, which dwelt on controversial issues, such as prostitution and abortion, and was an immediate sensation. It was finally published unabridged in 1988, and became an ABC TV series in 1989.
After the war, Cusack travelled through Europe, China and Russia for 20 years with her partner Norman Freehill, a journalist and member of the Communist Party. She wrote nine more novels - including Southern Steel (1953), Picnic Races (1962), Black Lightning (1964) and The Half-Burnt Tree (1969) - and several plays, before her death in 1981.