‘Library of the Month’ is the National Library of Australia, celebrating both the National Year of Reading and the centenary of the birth of one of Australia’s greatest writers: Patrick White. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973 – for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature – White wrote many beautiful novels, including Riders in the Chariot (1961), Voss (1957) and The Aunt’s Story (1948). Strangely, much of his world-renowned work has been out-of-print in Australia until recently, and the National Library’s contribution to the renewed interest in his novels is a significant one.
Patrick White died in 1990, and his literary agent, Barbara Mobbs, waited until 2006 before she offered his papers to the National Library (very much against the author’s expressed preference, ‘burn everything’). The large collection of letters, photographs, notebooks and manuscripts included the text of his thirteenth, unpublished novel. His biographer, David Marr, has called the work ‘a masterpiece in the making’ ; you can read critic Janet Gleeson-White’s glowing review here, and The Hanging Garden itself is held in the Barr Smith Library.
Alternatively, you can join the National Library’s celebrations for the ‘100th birthday’ on May 28th!