Ian Dickson reviews 'Close to the Flame: The life of Stuart Challender' by Richard Davis

Ian Dickson reviews 'Close to the Flame: The life of Stuart Challender' by Richard Davis

Close to the Flame: The life of Stuart Challender

by Richard Davis

Wakefield Press, $45 hb, 243 pp, 9781743054567

Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson has degrees in drama from Yale and the University of New South Wales, and is the co-author of the musical Better Known As...

Richard Davis is admirably determined that major Australian musical artists whose careers were attenuated by illness should not fade into oblivion. In Wotan’s Daughter (2012), he chronicled the career of Marjorie Lawrence, afflicted by polio just as she had become one of the world’s leading dramatic sopranos. Now, in Close to the Flame, he has given us a biography of Stuart Challender (1947–91), whose undoubted talent was beginning to be recognised internationally as he succumbed to AIDS. But whereas Lawrence’s pre-polio performances took place entirely overseas, the major part of Challender’s career was in Australia, and his influence on Australian performers and composers was profound.

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Published in March 2018, no. 399

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