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Naming of the Centre

It is unclear why and by whom the decision was made to name the house after Peter Cowan, a well-known WA writer and the grandson of Edith Cowan, but on 7 May 1995, after having been approached by Julie Lewis who had asked him to agree to this honour, Peter Cowan replied from his home at 149 Alfred Road, Mount Claremont:

Your suggestion about naming the old Cowan house did surprise me, and I was rather uncertain for various reasons. I was surprised because as you know I’ve pursued a rather solitary literary course. I’ve not been a ‘joiner’, as Bruce Bennett remarked, and I imagine there might be other names for the centre thought more appropriate.

Oddly the house has been slowly growing in my awareness for some time — perhaps because of its dismantling. I had expected it would disappear. But I think for other reasons. I remember it through many years. When I was a child we went there at times, occasionally for a mean, which was in the very formal — or so it seemed — room used as a dining room. We sat in what seemed to me fairly intimidating array, I don’t remember anything that was said. It was very much a place for grownups. There were other less formal visits, afternoon tea I remember in the front room, with the room crowded with furniture, photos, and ornaments. Very much a Victorian house. Very much. Though I didn’t realise then, it was in odd contrast to the kind of thinking and planning that went on there.

It was later when I came to know Dircksey and see her there that I began to understand that house. And each room had a different quality. I began to understand something of the family, and there are things I would like to write, but can’t — some that seem set in that house. But the point of this is that I think if the house now is to carry anyone’s name — yes, I would greatly appreciate it being mine.

I’m very grateful for your consideration in this. I realise that any decision would depend on a number of things.

 

Best wishes,

Peter


Letter now held within the blue folder about the History of Peter Cowan Writers Centre