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Patrick White

Awards: Miles  Franklin Literary Award, 1957 for Voss & 1961 for Riders in the Chariot; Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973

Born: 28/05/1912 in Knightbridge, London

Died: 30/09/1990 in Sydney, Australia

Language: English

Nationality: Australian

When Patrick was six months old, his parents came back to Australia. His father and their ancestors were farmers and owned large live stock. It was, therefore, quite natural for his father to expect his son to tow the family line rather than choose writing. But the young Patrick was drawn to poetry and drama as early as when he was nine year old and the same would grow to be his passion. As youngster, he visited Norway, Sweden along with his parents and the natural beauty as well as the influence of Ibsen, Strindberg was strongly noticeable on the boy. Patrick was in love with the theatre.

   He had his college education in King's College, Cambrtdge. The important events during his college days was a romantic liaison bordering on homosexuality with another student, publication of his poetry collection The Ploughman and Other Poems and death of his father in 1937. White inherited a fortune upon death of his father and decided to become a whole time writer.

White's first novel was "Happy Valley"(1939) which was well received in London but poorly in Australia. This was followed by "The Living and the Dead"(1941) and "The Aunt's Story"(1941). The third novel received a poor response and very rude comment in Australia where people found it unreadable.

 In the mean time, The World War was raging and White was inducted into the War Mobilization troop. The assignment took him traveling in Middle East and raw, barren deserts of Egypt that fired his imagination. The Tree of Man was a turning point followed by Voss, Riders in the Chariot. After returning from War, He lived in the suburb of Sydney and continued his work till the end.

  Patrick White was an active opponent of Literary censorship and invited criticism for opposing Australia's participation in the Vietnam war. Many colleagues found him to be very rude without any reason. But Patrick always encouraged younger writer class to fill the space. This is evident from the fact that his work "The Twyborn Affair" was short listed for Booker in 1979 but he requested for its removal to give younger writers a chance. Ironically, the award for that year went to Penelope Fitzgerald who was only 4 years younger to him.

 This foremost English novelist of the twentieth century died at the age of 78 in Sydney.

Major Influence: Goethe, D H Lawrence

Major Works: The Living and the Dead(1941), The Tree of Man(1955), Voss(1957), Riders in the Chariot(1961), The Burnt Ones(1964), The Vivisector(1970),The Eye of the Storm(1973),  Memoirs of a Survivor(1974),


Patrick White

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