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Vale Ruth Park

December 17, 2010

“Harp in the South silenced: author Ruth Park dead at 93” confronted me this morning on page 3 of our daily newspaper. I guess it had to happen, but it is nonetheless sad to see such a grand dame of Australian literature leave us. I have referred to her several times on this blog, three of those times being focused specifically on her – reviews of Swords and crowns and rings, and Missus, and a Monday Musings dedicated to her – so that will give you some measure of my regard for her and, really, of her standing in Australia.

Susan Wyndham, who wrote the announcement I read, concluded with the following:

Park’s publisher at Penguin, Robert Sessions, once said that she was one of three older women who had a huge impact on him, along with the writer Thea Astley and the legendary editor Beatrice Davis. All have now died.

Astley and Park both had huge stature in Australian literature and they had that rare combination of talent and strength and humility, he said.

What more can I say, except, well done Ruth, we’ll miss you – but we’ll keep on reading you.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    December 17, 2010 11:55 am

    Like yourself Sue, this was a bit of a shock when I read the SMH today- Ruth Park will be much missed! I will have to give her a re-read soon.

    • December 17, 2010 3:35 pm

      Thanks Sarah. I guess it shouldn’t have been a shock given her age, but it still is isn’t it? I think many of her books are still in print so it shouldn’t be hard to us to read/reread her.

  2. December 17, 2010 12:27 pm

    Oh no! I hadn’t heard this 😦 I really should reread Harp in the South, now. Or at least her autobiographies about writing!

  3. Lithe lianas permalink
    December 17, 2010 3:22 pm

    Her novels provide a wonderful insight into the times in which she was writing but also as interesting was the public’s reaction of shock and anger to the publication of and award given to ‘The Harp in the South’. How blinkered and self-satisfied we were in those days!

    • December 17, 2010 3:39 pm

      I guess it was ever thus. Each generation has its blinkered approach to creative works that the next generation admires doesn’t it.

  4. December 17, 2010 6:16 pm

    It’s less than a year since her daughter Kilmeny died – so it’s a sad year for her family. Her grandson Tom said (in a comment on Swords and Crowns and Rings ( that she was still very alert back in April, so it must have been a rapid decline.

    • December 17, 2010 9:26 pm

      Yes, it is. I remember her daughter’s dying. As you might have expected I did a bit of work on her (Kilmeny’s that is) Wikipedia page last year. That really was sad wasn’t it?

  5. December 18, 2010 4:10 pm

    I was sorry to hear this too. But she had a grand innings, didn’t she?

    • December 18, 2010 4:42 pm

      Oh she did – it’s always sad when someone dies but a death like this after a great and productive life is not tragic is it?

  6. December 18, 2010 10:43 pm

    I read that sad news yesterday too. I’ve heard of her of course, but sadly never read any of her work. I’m hoping to change that next year. I was surprised in reading her obituary to find that she was a kiwi- ah well, we’re quite good at pinching the good ones. They can have Joh back though, and Richard Wilkins.

  7. December 21, 2010 6:25 am

    Ruth Park is one of those writers who you can reasonably assume will become more famous as the years go by. I actually was reading ‘Poor Man’s Orange’ when I read your post. What a moving, emotional, controversial story along with ‘Harp in the South’. I guess Sydney tore down the slums because of these novels, but Ruth Park wasn’t too happy about the high-rises they replaced them with.

    • December 21, 2010 8:40 am

      I do hope you’re right Tony. I must read Poor man’s orange again, as it’s been a long time. She has a wonderful way with character and setting doesn’t she?

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