Patsy Adam-Smith, AO, OBE, was born in 1926 in Nowingi, Victoria. She was the daughter of country railway workers and went on to write about her childhood in Hear the Train Blow, 1964. The author of some 30 books, she had the rare ability to tap our Australian consciousness and bring us closer to our national identity. Throughout her life she has displayed a passion for adventure and scholarship, and a great love of Australia. The Anzacs shared the 1978 Age Book of the Year Award and was made into a popular TV series. In 1980 she received an OBE for services to literature, and in 1994 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for her contribution to community history. Patsy Adam-Smith died in 2001.
Thea Astley is one of Australia’s most renowned authors. A former teacher, she was born in Brisbane in 1925 and lived out her retirement in Queensland before her death in 2004. In 1962, Thea won her first Miles Franklin Award for The Well Dressed Explorer, and she was subsequently awarded three more Miles Franklin Awards for The Slow Natives in 1965, The Acolyte in 1972 and for Drylands, in 2000. Thea’s The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow was the 1996 The Age Book of the Year.
Marjorie Barnard was born in Sydney in 1897; she attended Sydney Girls’ High School before enrolling at Sydney University where she met Flora Eldershaw with whom she would collaborate, as “M. Barnard Eldershaw” on five novels, three histories, short stories and a significant number of essays between 1929 and 1947, including A House is Built (1929), which remained in print for over 50 years. During the war she wrote her last novel with Flora Eldershaw, the apocalyptic Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. Published in 1947, it was the victim of political censorship. ‘It was just murdered,’ said Barnard. ‘I was heartbroken.’ Marjorie Barnard died in 1987.
David (Digger) William Barrett was born into the depression of the 1920s. He was brought up in Melbourne with the Second World War on the horizon. He and his friends were quick to volunteer for the 2nd AIF. It was by accident that he ended up as a medical orderly with the 2nd Field Ambulance of the 8th Division who went to fight the Japanese in Malaya and on Singapore Island but as a POW of the Japanese, this did not stop him performing the duties of a surgeon out of necessity.
David went on to have a great business career and spent his retirement years successfully fighting for reparations for all POW of the Japanese. David was passionate about telling his intriguing story. He saw his book, Digger’s Story, co-written with Brian Robertson, in print and being delivered to the bookshops just before his death on 22 July 2012.
Samuel Beckett was born on Good Friday, April 13, 1906, near Dublin, Ireland. Raised in a middle class, Protestant home, the son of a quantity surveyor and a nurse, he was sent off at the age of 14 to attend the same school which Oscar Wilde had attended. In 1945 Beckett began his most prolific period as a writer. In the five years that followed, he wrote Eleutheria, Waiting for Godot, Endgame, the novels Malloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, and Mercier et Camier, two books of short stories, and a book of criticism. Although English was his native language, all of Beckett’s major works were originally written in French. His works have been translated into over twenty languages. In 1969 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He continued to write until his death in 1989.
Martin a Beckett Boyd was born in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1893. He was brought to Australia when he was six months old. Boyd’s original area of study was theology that he later changed to architecture. After a brief visit to Australia after the war he returned to England in 1921 where he undertook another try at a religious vocation in a Franciscan order in the Church of England. After this period he started his career as a fiction writer. His books include the four Langton novels: The Cardboard Crown (1952), A Difficult Young Man (1955), Outbreak of Love and When Blackbirds Sing. He died in June 1972.
BRISSENDEN, R.F. (Bob)
Robert Francis Brissenden was born in Wentworthville, Sydney in 1928. He was a member of the Literature Board of the Australia Council (1977-81) and its chairman (1978-81). He was also an associate editor of Meanjin (1959-64) and literary editor of the Australian (1964-65). Brissenden edited the anthologies Southern Harvest (1964) and Australian Poetry (1972). His published works include Winter Matins and Other Poems (1971), Elegies: Nine Poems (1974), The Whale in Darkness (poems) (1980) and Sacred Sites (1990). In his retirement he wrote crime fiction: Poor Boy (1987) and Wildcat (1991). Brissenden died in Canberra in 1991.
BRUCE, Mary Grant
The author of the Billabong series of books, Mary Grant Bruce, also known as Minnie Bruce, was born in 1878 and began writing poetry and short stories at the age of seven. After completing her matriculation Bruce moved to Melbourne where she worked as an editor and wrote weekly stories for the Leader children’s page. Her first book A Little Bush Maid, originally a serial, was published in 1910. Between 1910 and 1942 she published 37 children’s novels. She died in 1958.
David Campbell was born at ‘Ellerslie Station’ near Adelong in New South Wales in 1915. Early poems, most of which first appeared in The Bulletin, were published in Speak with the Sun (London, 1949). This volume was followed by The Miracle of Mullion Hill (1956) and Evening Under Lamplight (1959), a collection of short stories. His last book, The Man in the Honeysuckle was posthumously published and posthumously awarded the NSW Premier’s Prize for Poetry in 1979, as well as the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Christopher Brennan Award and the Grace Leven Prize. He died in Canberra on 29th July, 1979.
Susanne Carlsson was the daughter of celebrated film-makers Charles and Elsa Chauvel. She wrote a biography about her parents, Charles and Elsa Chauvel: Movie Pioneers, which was published by Queensland University Press in 1989.
Kenneth Cook was born in Sydney in 1929. He achieved recognition as a fiction writer with the publication of his first novel Wake In Fright in 1961. Critically acclaimed, it has been translated into several languages and is still in print 45 years later. Wake in Fright was followed by over 20 fiction and non-fiction books, including Eliza Frazer, Bloodhouse, Tuna and Pig. His antiwar beliefs were reflected in his powerful novel The Wine of God’s Anger and in the play Stockade. Kenneth Cook died of a heart attack in 1987 while on a publicity tour promoting Wombat Revenge, the second volume in his bestselling trilogy of humorous short stories (the others included The Killer Koala and Frillnecked Frenzy, published posthumously).
Dymphna Cusack was born in Wyalong in New South Wales in 1902 and was educated at St Ursula’s College, Armidale, and graduated from Sydney University with an Honours Degree in Arts and a Diploma of Education. Her works include Pioneers on Parade written with Miles Franklin, Come in Spinner and Morning Sacrifice. Cusack was awarded the Australia Medal in 1981 for her contribution to Australian literature. Dymphna Cusack died in 1981.
The novelist, Eleanor Dark (nee O’Reilly) was born in 1901 in Sydney and lived most of her life in Katoomba. Some of Dark’s works include Prelude to Christopher (1934), Return to Coolami (1936), The Timeless Land (1941) and Lantana Lane. Prelude to Christopher and Return to Coolami won the Australian Literature Society’s Gold Medal for the best Australian novel for the years 1934 and 1936 respectively. In 1951 she and her husband Eric moved to Queensland, escaping the repercussions of both being named in Federal Parliament as communist supporters in 1947. Eleanor Dark died in 1985.
Jack Davis was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1917 and began writing when he was fourteen years old. He worked for several years as a stockman in the north before returning to Perth and settling into fulltime writing and a long life of service to the Aboriginal cause. His first book was The First Born (1970), a volume of poetry. Jagardoo: Poems from Aboriginal Australia (1978) and John Pat and Other Poems (1988) followed. His plays include No Sugar, Burungin, Honeyspot, Kullark and The Dreamers and Our Town. In 1991 his memoir A Boy’s Life was published. He has received numerous distinctions including the British Empire Medal, the Order of Australia, and honorary doctorates from the universities of Murdoch and Western Australia. A selection of his poetry from Black Life (UQP 1992) features in Fresh Cuttings, the first anthology of UQP Black Australian Writing, released by UQP in October 2003. Jack Davis died in 2000.
Rosemary Dobson AO, was born in 1920. She published 13 books of poetry and edited several anthologies. Her awards include The Sydney Morning Herald Award for Poetry, The Patrick White Award for Poetry, The Grace Leven Prize for Poetry and The Australia Council Writer’s Emeritus Award. She was given an honorary Celebration by the National Library in 2000. Rosemary Dobson Collected (UQP), published in 2012 just before Rosemary’s death, contains the complete collection of her poems.
Donald Allan Dunstan was born in Suva, Fiji on 21 September 1926. He was appointed a QC in 1965. Don Dunstan became involved in Australian Labor Party politics, and in 1953 successfully stood for the House of Assembly seat of Norwood. In Frank Walsh’s government Dunstan held the position of Attorney-General and Minister of Community Welfare and Aboriginal Affairs. When Frank Walsh retired as premier in May 1967 Dunstan was elected leader of the Australian Labor Party (South Australian Branch) and became Premier. Don Dunstan died in Adelaide on 6 February 1999.
Born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1913 Mary’s childhood was spent on the Argyle and Ivanhoe stations in the West Australian East Kimberley area. During her lifetime Mary became a prolific writer, with her first known work being Little Poems of Sunshine (1923). Mary and her sister Elizabeth, who also became a noted author, completed their first book together Allabout: The Story of a Black Community on Argyle Station, Kimberley in 1935. Mary also wrote under the name of ‘Virgilia’ for The West Australian newspaper. In 1987 Dame Mary Durack became a Fellow of Curtin University and was commended by the Childrens’ Book Council in 1965 for The Courteous Savage: Yagan of Swan River (1964), illustrations by Elizabeth Durack. Mary Durack died in 1994.
Geoffrey Dutton was born in 1922 at Anlaby, the oldest stud sheep station in South Australia. He was educated at Geelong Grammar, Adelaide University and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied English Literature under C. S. Lewis. Dutton was founding editor of Penguin Australia in 1962 and became co-founder of Sun Books, Australian Letters and the Australian Book Review. He was also founding editor of the Bulletin Literary Supplement and, later, of the Australian Literary Magazine. He had over fifty books to his credit – poetry, biography, art and literary criticism, fiction and children’s writing. Dutton was awarded an Order of Australia and was the founding member at its launch. Geoffrey Dutton passed away in September 1998.
David Francis Everett was born in Tasmania in 1962. He joined the army at age fifteen, and the Australian SAS Regiment at twenty-one. He left the army in 1986, and went on to have various adventures, a few of which have inspired Shadow Warrior, his first book. He now lives ‘out bush’ in Australia’s vast north.
Rowena Farre was born in India, where she spent the early years of her life. She later moved to Scotland to live with her aunt, travelled around Britain with gypsies and undertook a spiritual journey to the Himalayas. Seal Morning was her first autobiographical work, followed by A Time from the World and The Beckoning Land. She died aged 57 in 1979.
George Finkel was born in the UK in 1913. He is the author of The Long Pilgrimate and Twilight Province (1967). He died in 1975.
Pat Flower born in Kent in 1914, and emigrated to Australia in 1928. She published fifteen crime novels between 1958-76 including Wax Flowers for Gloria (1958), Hell for Heather (1962) and Shadow Show (1976). She worked for the New Theatre League, was a copywriter, and also wrote for radio, TV and film. Her novel Fiends of the Family was dramatised by ABC TV and won an Awgie award. Her early novels with Inspector Swinton have been compared to Maigret, but her later works are perhaps the best psychothrillers produced in Australia. She committed suicide in 1977.
Nene Gare (1919-1994) was born Doris Violet May Wadham, the daughter of John Henry Wadham and Mary Wadham (nee Hounslow). She was brought up in Adelaide and educated at Adelaide Art School and Perth Technical School. Her best known work The Fringe Dwellers was made into a film in 1986. Nene Gare died in 1994.
Barbara Hanrahan was an artist, print maker and writer. She was born in Adelaide in 1939 and lived there until her death in December 1991. She spent three years at the South Australian School of Art and then left for London in 1966 to continue her art studies. From 1964 Hanrahan held a number of exhibitions principally in Adelaide and Sydney, but also in Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, London and Florence. He works are represented in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra and many regional galleries. Barbara Hanrahan’s novels include The Scent of Eucalyptus (1973), The Peach Groves (1980), The Frangipani Gardens (1988) and Flawless Jade (1989).
Xavier Herbert was born Alfred Jackson in Geraldton, Western Australia, in 1901. He commenced his writing career while in Melbourne and published his first story in the Australian Journal in 1926 under the pseudonym ‘Herbert Astor’. He then left Melbourne for Sydney and then Darwin where he worked as a railway fettler in the Rum Jungle area. He wrote the first draft of Capricornia in London during 1930-1932 but which, for a number of reasons, did not see print until 1938. In the years that followed he wrote a lot but published little until the end of the 1950s. His major novel from this period, Poor Fellow My Country, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1975. At 1463 pages and 850,000 words it is one of the longest novels ever published in English. Xavier Herbert died in 1984.
Alec Derwent Hope was born in Cooma, NSW on 21 July 1907 and spent most of his childhood in rural New South Wales. Hope was awarded the Robert Frost Award for Poetry and the Age Book Award in 1976, the Ingram Merrill Award for Literature (New York) in 1969, the Levinson Prize for Poetry (Chicago) in 1968, the Myer Award for Australian Literature in 1967 and the Britannica Award for Literature in 1965. He was awarded an OBE in 1972 and AC in 1981. A.D. Hope died in 2000.
Florence James (1902-1993) was a novelist, editor and reviewer. She was born in New Zealand and educated at Sydney University where she began her long association with Dymphna Cusack. Together James and Cusack wrote two books, Four Winds and a Family, a story for children, and Come in Spinner which won the Sydney Daily Telegraph prize in 1948. James went to England in 1947 and from 1951 worked as an independent literary agent and reader for Constable and Co. and for Richmond, Towers and Benson Limited. While in London she acted as a talent scout for Australian and New Zealand writers including Mary Durack, Nene Gare, Maurice Shadbolt, David Martin and Sylvia Ashton-Warner. Florence James died in 1993.
Nancy Keesing was born in Sydney and educated at Sydney Girls’ Grammar School and the University of Sydney. Garden Island People (1975), a memoir, describes her war-time work with the Senior Service at Garden Island and as a social worker at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children (1947-51). Her long association with Sydney is reflected in much of her work. Nancy Keesing died in 1993.
Peter Kenna was born 18th March, 1930. In 1973 when he completed A Hard God he referred to it as ‘the play I had been wanting to write for fifteen years’. It was the first play of the trilogy The Cassidy Album (comprising A Hard God, Furtive Love and An Eager Hope) and the reputation and stature the play has achieved are unique; A Hard God has given every sign of having established itself as a landmark in our dramatic literature. Peter Kenna died in 1987.
Michael King was born in New Zealand in 1945. In a career spanning more than three decades he published thirty-four books, hundreds of contributions to other books and journals, television documentaries, features for newspapers and magazines and radio broadcasts. He won a wider range of awards for his work than any other New Zealand writer. In October 2003 he was presented with the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement. His 1986 book Death of the Rainbow Warrior, about the sinking of the Greenpeace flagship by the French Secret Service, sold internationally. His trail-blazing book Moriori was an important impetus behind the renaissance of Te Iwi Moriori. His most recent biography was Wrestling With the Angel, about the life of Janet Frame. It was published to international acclaim in 2000 and in 2001 won the Montana Medal for non-fiction. Michael King was tragically killed in a car accident in March 2004.
David Lewis was born 1917 in England, of a Welsh-Irish family, and brought up in New Zealand and Rarotonga. His major works include Icebird; his account of his first solo voyage into Antartica, We the Navigators and Shapes in the Wind, all based on his own sailing adventures around the globe. David Lewis died in 2002.
Isobel Marion Dorothea Mackellar was born on 1 July 1885, at her family’s home in Point Piper, overlooking Rose Bay on Sydney Harbour. The first draft of what was to become Australia’s most quoted and best loved poem, “My Country” , was written in England at a time when Dorothea was feeling homesick. Never quite content with the verses, she wrote and re-wrote the poem several times after returning to Australia. In the 1968 New Year Honours list her contribution to Australian literature was formally recognised and she was made an Officer of the British Empire. Sadly, only two weeks later on the 14 January, Dorothea Mackellar died in her sleep in the Scottish Hospital, Paddington.
Alan Marshall was born in Noorat, Victoria in 1902 and educated in Terang. He lived in Melbourne for some time, and then travelled extensively around Australia. He has recounted the story of his life and travels in a three-part autobiography. I Can Jump Puddles, the first book of the trilogy, is the story of his childhood. It is one of Australia’s best loved books, and is known around the world in thirty languages. It was made into an award-winning film by Czechoslovakian director Karel Kachyna in 1970. This is the Grass is the second book of Alan Marshall’s autobiography; the third is In Mine Own Heart. Alan Marshall died in 1984 at the age of 82.
David Martin was a novelist, poet, playwright, journalist, editor, literary reviewer and lecturer. He was born in Budapest, Hungary on 22 December 1915, one of twin sons, to Leo and Hedwig Detsinyi. He was given the name Ludwig but adopted the name of David Martin after he moved to England. His first book – a collection of his poetry – was published in 1942. He went on to publish a number of books, which included further collections of his poetry, novels, short stories, children’s books, plays and his autobiography. Many of his works have been published overseas and some have been adapted for theatre and television. David Martin died in 1997.
James McAuley was born in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba in 1917, and attended Fort Street High School and the University of Sydney. In 1943 James McAuley and Harold Stewart, then in Melbourne with the Army, concocted sixteen poems (or seventeen, if you count a coda as a separate poem) in the name of a fictional recently-dead poet, Ern Malley, and sent them to Angry Penguins, an experimental magazine edited by the 22-year-old Max Harris. Harris took the bait, published and praised the poems, and found his reputation as an editor wrecked when the hoax was exposed. McAuley founded the anti-Communist political and cultural journal Quadrant in 1956, and worked on it tirelessly until his death in 1976.
Elyne Mitchell was born in Melbourne, Victoria on 30th December 1913. Inspired by her father, who taught her to ride, Elyne Mitchell’s interest in horses began when she was a young girl. The Silver Brumby, written for the eldest of her four children and first published in 1958, heralded the beginning of the internationally renowned series – there are 12 Silver Brumby titles in the series. In March 2002 Elyne Mitchell died at the age of 88. Her legacy continues in the stories she created of Thowra and the other High Country brumbies which have never been out of print.
Pixie O’Harris, children’s artist and author was born in Wales in 1903. On 1 January 1976 she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (Civil) for services to the Arts. In 1953 she was awarded the Queen’s Coronation Medal and in 1977 she received the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal. During her career she contributed poems, stories and illustrations to many publications as well as illustrating the work of other authors. Over 50 children’s hospital wards, schools, day nurseries and baby clinics throughout New South Wales have been decorated with Pixie’s illustrations. Pixie O’Harris died in 1991.
Katharine Susannah Prichard was the first Australian novelist to gain international recognition. In 1915, her novel, The Pioneers, won the Hodder and Stoughton All Empire Literature Prize for Australasia. Fifty years later, with thirteen novels to her credit including Coonardoo, The Black Opal, Children of The Hurricane and Intimate Strangers, five collections of short stories, ten plays, two films, two volumes of verse, she has been translationed into thirteen foreign languages and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Litreature in 1951. Katherine once confessed that she was born “with ink in her veins”. Katharine Susannah Pritchard died in 1969.
Born in Western Australia in 1905, Leslie Rees is the author of the stage play of A Harp in the South by Ruth Park. Leslie died in 2000.
Henry Handel Richardson (Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson) was born in 1870 in Melbourne, Victoria. She was born in a prosperous family which later fell on hard times. Her family lived in various towns in Victoria during her childhood and youth and she attended Presbyterian Ladies College between the ages of 13 and 17. (This experience was the basis for her novel The Getting of Wisdom.) She excelled at music during her time at PLC and her mother took the family (her father having died in 1879) to Europe to enable Ethel to continue her musical studies at Leipzig. Ethel married J.G. Robertson in 1894 and later moved to London in 1903. She visited Australia again in 1912 for several months before returning to England where she lived for the rest of her life. Ethel Richardson died in 1946.
Maurice Shadbolt is the author of four volumes of short stories, several works on non-fiction, and eleven novels, including three now seen as New Zealand classics: Strangers and Journeys (1973 Wattie Book of the Year), The Lovelock Version (1981 New Zealand Book Award for Fiction, third place 1981 Wattie Book of the Year) and Season of the Jew (1987 Wattie Book of the Year). This last book is the first of an epic trilogy that includes Monday’s Warriors and The House of Strife. His recent publications include the highly praised autobiography One of Ben’s and the novel Dove on the Waters. The Chicago Sun-Times pronounced him ‘one of the most inventive and lively novelists working in the world today’. In 1989 Maurice Shadbolt was awarded the C.B.E. for services to literature. Maurice Shadbolt died in 2004.
Douglas Stewart was born in New Zealand in 1913 and moved to Australia in 1938. He was literary editor of The Bulletin from 1940 to 1961 and an editor at Angus & Robertson, and did a great deal to encourage Australian poets and writers. His own work included many books of poetry, such as the verse novel The Fire on the Snow, and the memoir Springtime in Taranaki. Douglas Stewart died in 1985.
Kylie Tennant was born in Manly, NSW, in 1912, and educated at Brighton College and Sydney University. Her literary work covered a broad spectrum and included novels, plays, short stories, children’s books, literary criticism, biography, and history. Her her best known novel, The Battlers won the Australian Literature Society’s Gold Medal and the S.H Prior Award and was turned into an ABC mini-series. Kylie Tennant died in 1988.
Ric published four novels, A Reliable Source, In a Wilderness of Mirrors, and Tomorrow and Jackpot . He wrote at least ten plays, most of which were performed in Canberra where he was a long-time supporter of local repertory theatre. Additionally he edited Tribute, a collection of KS Pritchard’s stories, and Straight Left, her articles and speeches. But he will probably be remembered principally for his two revealing and sensitively written biographies, Wild Weeds and Wind Flowers (1975) and My Father’s Son (1989). Ric was also Patron of the Katharine Susannah Prichard Foundation from its inception. Ric Throssell died in 1999.
Nancy Wake left Australia in her early twenties and settled in Paris where she became a freelance journalist. For her outstanding work during World War II she was awarded the George Medal; the Croix de Guerre with Palm and Bar; the Croix de Guerre with Star; the Medaille de la Resistance; and the American Medal of Freedom with Bronze Palm; and she was made a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. She wrote an autobiography, The White Mouse. Peter Fitzsimons also wrote an autobiography of Nancy entitled Nancy Wake which HarperCollins published. Nancy was appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2004.
Russell Ward was an Australian historian best known as the author of The Australian Legend (1958), an examination of the development of the “Australian character”. Russell Ward died in 1995.
In Blacktown, Weaver recalls how as a boy he lived a nightmare every day to become an angry young man who learned to channel his rage into boxing, going on to become an Australian champion. Haunted by his past, he embraces alcohol and drugs with a terrifying intensity, teetering on the edge of the criminal, violent world in which he grew up. One day, jobless and on the run, with a wife and three kids to support, all his past lives collide to help him create an inspired application for a copywriting job. The result is a new start – and a whole new life. Best of all, he finds the love of a good woman who helps him rebuild his life. Weaver went on to become an internationally award-winning Creative Director of multinational advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather, in Hong Kong. In June 2004 Shane Weaver sadly lost his battle with liver cancer after being diagnosed only a month earlier.
WRIGHT, Catherine : CADDIE
Patricia Wrightson is one of Australia’s most distinguished writers for children. Since her first novel The Crooked Snake was published, she has won many prestigious international awards including an OBE, the Dromkeen Medal and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, all for her services to children’s literature. Many of her books have been short-listed for the Australian Children’s Book of the Year Award which she has won four times for The Crooked Snake, The Nargun and the Stars, The Ice Is Coming and A Little Fear. Patricia’s latest books include the Aussie Bites Rattler’s Place, The Sugar Gum Tree and The Water-Dragons. The Nargun and the Stars was re-released by UQP as part of their Australian Classics series in 2008.