Patrick White

Peter Craven on Patrick White's 'Happy Valley'

Peter Craven
Thursday, 30 August 2012

Happy Valley is the first of Patrick White’s novels and it is a consistently compelling book, as well as the exhilarating performance of a great writer in the making. Everyone knows the legend, rooted in truth: that Patrick White finds his voice as a consequence of the war and after discovering the love of his life in Manoly Lascaris; and that the first i ...

'Patrick White in Adelaide' by David Marr

David Marr
Tuesday, 24 April 2012

By the time I found him twenty-five years ago in the Adelaide Hills, Glen McBride was old, tiny, spry, and ready to boast about his career. I doubt many readers have heard of this little man or know of his pivotal role in the literature of this country. That’s what had me knocking at his door. And though he disowned none of it in the hours we spent ranging over hi ...

Peter Conrad reviews 'The Hanging Garden' by Patrick White

Peter Conrad
Wednesday, 21 March 2012

‘Genius,’ as Arthur Rimbaud put it, ‘is childhood recovered at will.’ Rimbaud himself abandoned poetry at the age of twenty and thereafter refused to look back, but Patrick White exemplified the rule in writing The Hanging Garden. He was sixty-eight at the time, and had just completed his rancorous memoir Flaws in the Glass (1981); having d ...

Peter Rose reviews 'The Eye of the Storm'

Peter Rose
Tuesday, 27 September 2011

So Patrick White’s most flamboyant novel (with the possible exception of The Twyborn Affair) has been brought to the cinema, after the usual longueurs and fiscal frights. Director Fred Schepisi and his scriptwriter, Judy Morris, have tamed the long and somewhat unwieldy beast that won White the Nobel Prize in 1973. Lovers of the novel will miss certain sc ...

Patrick White's Papers

Margaret Harris and Elizabeth Webby
Wednesday, 08 June 2011

It’s not often that literature makes the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, but on 3 November 2006 the lead story was a report by David Marr about the National Library of Australia’s purchase of a collection of Patrick White’s papers, previously thought destroyed. Other media, both in Australia and internationally, picked up the story. The T ...

That Patrick White is thought of as an Australian writer is, though regrettable, undeniable. Two problems follow: the first being that he tends to be presented by his critical custodians in an almost comically restricted way, as though White’s works needed to be measured and justified only by Australian standards and terms of comparison ...

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'My mss are destroyed'

Marie-Louise Ayres
Tuesday, 01 May 2007

I can’t let you have my ‘papers’ because I don’t keep any. My mss are destroyed as soon as the books are printed. I put very little into notebooks, don’t keep my friends’ letters … and anything unfinished when I die is to be burnt. The final versions of my books are what I want people to see …

       (Patrick White, reply to Dr George Chandler, Director General, 9 April 1977, National Library of Australia, MS 8469)

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In a recent interview on ABC radio, the playwright, Stephen Sewell, deplored the lack of revivals of notable Australian plays. Now and then, one of the pioneer playwrights from the first half of the century is honoured briefly in this way, but it is much rarer to find one of the professional companies revisiting the major works of the last twenty-five years. As Sewell implied, this reflects the lack of a strong sense of a tradition of ‘modem classics’ in our theatre.

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Patrick White is a downy old bird. He has always shown remarkable ability to keep up with the game, even to keep ahead of it. Whether the game is currently being called Modernism, or Postmodernism, or some other ismatic title, he can handle it as a writer and still be himself. From The Aunt’s Story to The Twyborn Affair, he has displayed this ability to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, to go in with the ferrets and also come out with the rabbits. In other words, of all Australian writers he most convincingly builds a bridge between what critics ask for and what readers want.

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