1965 as a topic? What the?! Those familiar with the lit-blogosphere will probably guess what inspired this post, but for everyone else, I’ll explain. Over the last week of April, bloggers Kaggsy (Kaggsy’s Book Ramblings) and Simon (Stuck in a Book) ran a 1965 Reading Week, the latest in their series of reading weeks focusing on books published in a particular year. Needless to say, I didn’t manage to take part – if I had, you would have known about it before now! (For a list of the books read and who read them, check Simon’s 1965 Club Page.)
However, I thought I could play along, in my own way, by writing a – yes, I admit – belated post on 1965 in Australian literature. If it works, I might try it again for their next “year”, whatever and whenever that may be.
My main sources for this post were:
- 1965 in Australian Literature (WIkipedia)
- Joy Hooton and Harry Heseltine’s Annals of Australian literature, 2nd ed
Australian literature and 1965
Kaggsy and Simon’s focus is books published in the year, but I’m going to do a sort of literary snapshot.
Writers born in 1965
An interesting group containing, not surprisingly, many writers in their prime now:
- Michael Farrell: poet, who has had several books published, mainly by independent publisher Giramondo
- Gideon Haigh: journalist and author, best known for sports and business writing
- Fiona McGregor: novelist, whose third novel, Indelible ink, won The Age Book of the Year award
- Melina Marchetta: novelist, primarily of Young Adult literature, whose award-winning YA novel, Looking for Alibrandi (1992), is an Australian classic
- Carrie Tiffany: novelist, whose first two novels, Everyman’s rules for scientific living and Mateship with birds (my review), both won awards, and whose third book, Exploded view, was published this year. Mateship with birds won the inaugural Stella Prize.
- Christos Tsiolkas: novelist who has written eight novels, including The slap (my review) and Barracuda (my review), as well as plays and screenplays.
- Charlotte Wood: novelist who has written both novels and non-fiction, and whose dystopian The natural way of things (my review) also won a Stella Prize
Writers died in 1965
Hooton and Heseltine list a small number of deaths for the year (and I’ve added them to Wikipedia), but none are particularly significant in terms of my blog’s interests. However, one of those who died was a significant Australian personage, HV (aka Doc) Evatt. Among other roles, he was President of the UN General Assembly, and helped draft the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Novels published in 1965
By 1965, a goodly number of books were being published in Australia, so I can’t list them all. Hence, I’m focusing on those that interest me! You can check my sources for more.
- Thea Astley, The slow natives: if I’d taken part in the 1965 Club, this is the book I would have chosen. I love Astley and have written about, or reviewed, her here a few times.
- Clive Barry, Crumb borne: included because Barry was the inaugural winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize, and was described by the Oxford Companion to Australian Literature as a “vivid stylist with a capacity for dry humour”; his experiences as a POW in Italy in WW2 inform this novel.
- Nancy Cato, North west by south: well-known for her historical fiction (of which I reviewed All the rivers run) but also wrote biographies and poetry, and was an environmentalist and conservationist; this book is about Lady Jane Franklin.
- Don Charlwood, All the green year: this would have been my second choice for the club, because I have the Text Classics copy that I gave my late aunt.
- Catherine Gaskin, The file on Devlin: best-selling romance novelist, whose book Sara Dane, based on the convict Mary Reibey, sold more than 2 million copies.
- Donald Horne, The permit: one of Australia’s best known public intellectuals in his time, famous for coining the phrase “the lucky country”. Novels were not his main form of writing.
- George Johnston, The far face of the moon: best-known for his My brother Jack, which won the Miles Franklin in 1964.
- Thomas Keneally, The fear: prolific novelist who has won both the Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Award (twice).
- Christopher Koch, Across the sea wall: best-known for The year of living dangerously, and twice-winner of the Miles Franklin Award.
- Eric Lambert, The long white night: one of the many left-wing/communist writers who were published in the 1950s and 1960s.
- D’Arcy Niland, The apprentices: husband of Ruth Park (haha, just had to describe him in relationship to his wife!), and best known for his novel The shiralee.
- Lesley Rowlands, A bird in the hand: also published two humorous travel books, and short stories.
- Randolph Stow, The merry-go-round in the sea (my review): woo hoo, one I’ve read!
- George Turner, A waste of shame: best-known for the SF novels he wrote later in his career, but in 1962, he won a Miles Franklin Award with his novel The cupboard under the stairs (reviewed by Lisa)
- Morris West, The ambassador: a best-selling author in my youth, West is on my list of topics for Monday Musings one day
Selected other publications from 1965
So many well-known writers well-known published poetry, plays, short stories and other works in 1965, but I can only share a few (links on their names are to posts on my blog which feature them, though most have been mentioned in some way, in fact):
- Rosemary Dobson, Cock crow (Poetry)
- Frank Hardy, The yarns of Billy Borker (Short stories)
- AD Hope, The cave and the spring (Criticism)
- Geoffrey Lehmann & Les Murray, The Ilex Tree (Poetry)
- Hal Porter, The cats of Venice (Short stories)
- Kenneth Slessor, Life at the cross (Poetry)
- Ivan Southall, Ash Road (Children’s novel)
- Kylie Tennant, Trailblazers of the air (Children’s novel)
- Colin Thiele, February dragon (Children’s novel)
- Russel Ward, Australia (History)
- Patrick White, Four plays (Drama)
- Judith Wright, Preoccupations in Australian poetry (Criticism)
Literary Awards in 1965
Most literary awards we now know, started in the 1970s or later:
- ALS Gold Medal: Patrick White’s The burnt ones (this book of short stories was my second Patrick White, the first being Voss)
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Awards for Literature: Shared between two poets, AD Hope and Robert D Fitzgerald. The chair of the awards committee said: “As a critic [Hope] he is lively and controversial and he has earned the respect of his fellow teachers and intelligent readers, for his determined efforts to reevaluate accepted literary convention.”
- Miles Franklin Award: Thea Astley’s The slow natives
The interesting thing, not necessarily obvious from these lists, is the number of left, if not Communist, writers who were active at this time, beautifully reflecting the political activism and idealism of the 1960s.
Oh, and I found some fascinating articles in Trove about Australian literature in 1965. They deserve their own post – watch this space.