From the correspondence between Cusack, James and Franklin across the years 1928 to the death of Franklin in 1954, Yarn Spinners: A Story in Letters has been shaped by a process of selection, editing, weaving and providing narrative links in order to develop a continuous narrative of the friendship, collaborations and inter-related lives of these three Australian women writers. The Prologue gives a biographical overview of each of their lives. Each of the five narrative Parts is briefly prefaced with its socio-historical context.
Part I:1928-1935 sets up the Cusack-James relationship as they write to each other as young women graduates: Cusack is teaching in remote rural NSW schools whilst James does the Grand Tour of Europe, finally settling down in London where she marries in 1933.
Part II :1938-39 establishes the friendship of Cusack and Franklin which develops during their collaboration on the scandalous sesqui-centennial satire Pioneers on Parade. In Part III:1945-47, Cusack and James, both burnt out at the end of WWII, set up a writing retreat in the Blue Mountains and collaborate on their prizewinning bestseller expose of wartime Sydney, Come In Spinner.
In Part IV: 1947-49, James returns to London and Cusack follows through the revisions demanded by the Daily Telegraph before they will award the thousand pounds prize money. Cusack is also researching her "tuberculosis novel" Say No To Death. All That Swagger is published by Angus & Robertson whilst Franklin endures her nephew's war neurosis and makes her final Will, providing for an annual [Miles] Franklin Award. In mid-1949 Cusack leaves for Europe.
In Part V:1950-55 the Cusack-Franklin-James friendships are now essentially carried through their correspondence; Come In Spinner is published to press acclaim in London, with Cusack's Say No To Death, Southern Steel and Caddie following in quick succession. Angus & Robertson finally began publishing the "Brent of Bin Bin" series. James, now divorced, rearing two daughters, begins work with London publisher Constable & Co as a reader and talent scout for Australian writers. Franklin and Cusack's friendship provides the emotional fulcrum for this final Part.
The Chronology (1879-2001) provides the facts of the lives and works; the Biographical Notes provide an inventory of most of the cast of characters who appear in the letters.