Skip to main content

The black coat: Lily Brett
, 1989

by David Rankin

oil on canvas (frame: 53.5 cm x 41.0 cm, support: 51.0 cm x 38.0 cm)

Lily Brett (b. 1946) is a New York-based novelist, essayist, and poet. She was born to survivors of Auschwitz who brought her to Melbourne with them when she was two. In her twenties, Brett worked as a journalist on the music magazine Go-Set, and on Uptight, a television pop-music program. In the summer of 1967 she travelled to the USA to cover the Monterey International Pop Festival, then to the UK before returning to Australia. In 1989 she moved to New York with her second husband, painter David Rankin, and her three children. The following year she published her first novel, Things Could be Worse (1990). Just like that (1994) won the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, and her best-selling 2001 novel, Too Many Men, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. She has published seven volumes of poetry, several of them on the theme of the Holocaust; three collections of essays; and six novels, the latest Lola Bensky (2012), about a child of Auschwitz survivors who works as a music reporter.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Dr Gene Sherman AM and Brian Sherman AM 2012
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2012.221