Crook (Devanny) was born on 7 January 1894 at Ferntown, Collingwood, New Zealand, to William Crook, boilermaker and miner, and his wife Jane, née Appleyard. She married very young (aged 17) to Francis Harold (Hal) Devanny (1888-1966) in 1911. The Devannys settled in Palmerston and became very active in the labour movement; Devanny was reading Marx and other socialist theorists.

In 1926, Devanny had her first novel, The Butcher Shop, published. The novel explored the issue of sexual oppression in marriage. In 1929 the Devannys moved to Sydney. Devenny joined the Australian Communist Party in late 1930 or early 1931, and was appointed the National Secretary of Workers' International Relief. Her relationship with the Party flicked. In 1940 Devanny was expelled from the Party, but re-joined in 1944. In 1949 she finally left the Party disillusioned.  During this period, Devanney spent eight months on organizing a tour in Queensland for the Party (1935). Devanney founded the Writers League with Katharine Susannah Prichard and Egon Kisch, and was the League’s first president in 1935. (This became the Writers Association in 1937 and then the Fellowship of Australian Writers, a non-party organisation).

From the early 1940s Devanny settled in the Cairns area and became an important literary figure and environmentalist for the North Queensland region.

See Jean Devanney on Scatterplot Matrix.


Carole Ferrier. Jean Devanny: Romantic Revolutionary. Carlton, Vic. Melbourne University Press, 1999.

Ron Store, 'Devanny, Jane (Jean) (1894–1962)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 19 September 2014.

Jean Devanney (1894 –1962)

Novelist and Communist

Jean Devanney. From Nancy L. Paxton. Transnational Ties. Australian lives in the world. ANU Press.
Jean Devanney. From Nancy L. Paxton. Transnational Ties. Australian lives in the world. ANU Press.
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