Age of Consent was the second novel by Norman Lindsay to be illustrated with his inimitable line drawings, and like Redheap and The Cautious Amorist it too was briefly banned in his native Australia. Age of Consent, in the same vein as the unillustrated Redheap, is marginally autobiographical, as Lindsay’s attraction to young women was well-known.

The central character is Bradly Mudgett, a middle-aged painter, who with his fox terrier companion Edmund travels to a rural township of New South Wales in search of scenic inspiration, but who meets instead a wild adolescent girl who serves as his model and muse. Cora Ryan, who is just seventeen, is described as a ‘child of nature’, and Mudgett encounters her selling shellfish on a wild strip of Margoola Beach. Though he initially wants nothing to do with her either socially or sexually, her body strikes him as very paintable, and she becomes his model and muse. The nature of their relationship is regularly questioned by the locals, and the novel paints a believable picture of artist and model working out what they mean to one another. Lindsay’s illustrations match the text well, with several demonstrating why Cora’s young curves are such an attraction.

In 1969 the director Michael Powell made a highly successful film of Age of Consent, starring James Mason as the artist and a young Helen Mirren as Cora, in her first major film role.

A PDF of the UK edition of Age of Consent can be found at the Internet Archive here.