Gwen Harwood AO, née Gwendoline Nessie Foster, was an Australian poet and librettist. Gwen Harwood is regarded as one of Australia's finest poets, publishing over 420 works, including 386 poems and 13 librettos. She won numerous poetry awards and prizes. Her work is commonly studied in schools and university courses.
Gwen Harwood is the mother of the author John Harwood.
She was born in Taringa, Queensland and brought up in Brisbane. She attended Brisbane Girls Grammar School and was an organist at All Saints Church when she was young. She completed a music teacher's diploma, and also worked as a typist at the War Damage Commission from 1942. Early in her life, she developed an interest in literature, philosophy and music.
She moved to Tasmania after her marriage to linguist William Harwood in September 1945. Here she developed her lifelong interest in the work of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein "which informs her entire opus".
Her father played piano, violin, guitar and the flute. Both Gwen and her brother were given piano lessons, and originally Gwen wanted to be a musician. Gwen's grandmother introduced her to poetry; this inspired her and became her life long calling and passion.
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