Patrick White in the Library

‘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 The large collection of letters, photographs, notebooks and manuscripts included the text of his  thirteenth, unpublished novel.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!



Filed under Australian authors, Libraries

3 responses to “Patrick White in the Library

  1. Pioneers Association of South Australia Inc

    Did you know that the University of Adelaide has a close connection to Patrick White through the Theatre Guild’s world-premieres of three of his plays in the 1960’s? The University Archives holds material relating to this relationship and a recent blog on Archival Allsorts [] reveals some of the details.

  2. Blog entry posted by AustLit on 30 May 2012 10:10:59 EST

    The centenary of Patrick White’s birth is being celebrated musically as well as visually. (See ‘Patrick White Exhibitions in Canberra’ for examples of the latter.) On Sunday, 26 May, ABC Radio National broadcast Patrick White’s Ear. The 44-minute episode of the Into the Music program features composers and friends of White sharing their stories and observations. ‘Carl Vine, Peter Sculthorpe and Moya Henderson talk frankly about setting [White’s] words to music, while Vincent Plush and Jack Carmody reflect on its place in his work.’ The episode also includes readings by Kate Fitzpatrick from six of White’s novels. To listen to Patrick White’s Ear, click here.

    The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s (ACO) June 2012 touring program features music linked directly to White. The orchestra is premiering a new composition by Carl Vine using text from The Tree of Man. Vine writes: ‘the text is full of lilting, natural and repetitive rhythms, which I have heightened with simple step-wise melody and accompaniment that emphasises its regularities … I have endeavoured to reflect, in every aspect of the music, the simplicity and sincerity of the novel’s language’ (Carl Vine’s website). Details of the ACO tour dates and locations are available …