The Third Chopstick: Tracks through the Vietnam War
THE VIETNAM WAR ROCKED AUSTRALIA TO ITS CORE...
The Third Chopstick transports us back to those days. In starkly beautiful prose Biff Ward seeks to understand the war from multiple angles. She balances the heart‑felt motivations of the protest movement with candid accounts from veterans about what was happening for them in Vietnam and afterwards.
Her lyrical evocation of peaceful Vietnam, the people she meets and war sites she visits render the war in a new light.
The Third Chopstick is the moving story of one woman’s passion to bear tender witness to those involved in that tumultuous time.
In My Mother's Hands
Allen & Unwin 2014
This book plumbs the mystery at the heart of my parents’ lives. It’s about family secrets and how they shape us. A son-in-law said to me, ‘It’s a love-letter to your parents’ which I particularly liked.
In My Mother’s Hands is the story of a young girl confused and anxious about her mother's behaviour, yet also fearing that her mother might be taken away and locked up forever. Emotionally complex, it has some of the qualities of a first-rate mystery. What was the real story of her sister Alison’s death? In late middle age, Biff and her brother start to look back and deal with the demons they have been carrying.
A beautifully written coming-of-age story set in Sydney, Canberra and Armidale, this is a story that will intrigue readers of any age. As well, for those interested in social history there is an extra dimension in that Biff’s father was the controversial historian, Russel Ward, author of The Australian Legend.
Short-listed for the NSW and Western Australian Premier's Book Awards for Non-fiction
Long-listed for The Stella Prize for 2015
Winner, Canberra Critics' Circle Award for 2014
The Women's Press, 1984
Even the marvellous Women’s Press would not let me use the name ‘Biff’ in 1984, so Elizabeth Ward wrote it.
Father-Daughter Rape was written in the white heat of the days when only a handful of people had realised that sexual abuse of girl children by a trusted adult male was occurring at a significant rate and that it was invisible to the wider community. A ‘startlingly well written book’, it charts the patriarchal nature of the clinical literature on this subject from Freud in 1896 to the 1980s. It charts, in fact, A Big Patriarchal Lie.
The book opens with a series of personal accounts by women of their being raped or abused in childhood by fathers, brothers, or other men in whom they had trusted: The Fathers. By setting these harrowing accounts in a wider political context. she places the blame, so often laid upon girls and their mothers, squarely upon the abuse of male power. Published in the UK and US in 1984, it became a standard text for child protection workers throughout the western world.
Now out of print, it is available from some libraries and on-line from many second-hand book sites.
three's company is a conversation in poems about the environment, feminism and love by Biff Ward, Donna McSkimming and Debroah McCulloch. three's company won the Friendly St/ Wakefield Press poetry award for 1991 and was launched at Adelaide Writers' Week in 1992.
The first edition of 500 sold out within a week, so we talked Wakefield into printing another edition. It turned out the rush was over - so now we each have a box of books under our beds. Available for the cost of postage!
The Way We Were in '74
Griffith Review 58: Storied Lives, 2017
A winner of the Griffith Review Novella Prize in 2017, The Way We Were In 1974 is a fictional account of a primary school teacher sexually abusing every girl in his class and how they were rescued. A tribute to a bureaucrat who pushed through her fears and ignorance in a time when such a disclosure was normally swept, with ferocious alacrity, under the rug. Told in the intertwined voices of Sue, the bureaucrat, and one of the girls, Trisha, The Way We Were In 1974 is a timely reminder that the widespread acceptance that child sexual abuse exists is a recent phenomenon.
Zara’s Rage is a novel I’m writing about a 70s Women’s Liberationist and her friends – the Brazen Hussies, to quote the film of that name – both then and now. If it ever sees the light of day, it will be dedicated to the late artist, Frances Phoenix.