As it’s Australia Day today, let’s take a look at some of the leading writers from Down Under. The country has certainly served up some notable and diverse contributions to literature over the years, and here are five very different writers worth exploring:
1. Patrick White
Though born in London, White moved to Sydney when six months old and spent most of his life there. Known for his humour and stream-of-conscience style, White wrote such bestsellers as ‘Riders in the Chariot’ and ‘The Vivisector’.
Often rebellious, White would frequently question or turn down awards and recognition. When named Australian of the Year in 1974, he noted that it was unusual for a sportsperson not to get the award and asked Australians to observe the state of the country during his acceptance speech.
2. P. L. Travers
Though she lived in London for most of her life, Travers was born and brought up in Queensland.
She wrote 18 fiction books across a writing career of more than 50 years, as well as a few non-fiction and short story collections, but is undoubtedly best known for her Mary Poppins books.
3. Paul Jennings
Jennings might be best known among certain age groups for being the inspiration behind the 1990s kids’ TV programme ‘Round The Twist’. It was a madcap set of stories about an Australian family who lived in a lighthouse and always found themselves in strange and fantastical situations involving such creations as underpants that provided superhuman powers, and remote controls that worked on people.
The tales were inspired by his short story collections, mostly beginning with the prefix un-, such as ‘Unreal!’ and ‘Unbelievable!’.
4. Germaine Greer
Another Australian to have emigrated to the UK, Greer’s second-wave feminism work remains highly controversial and influential.
Her well-known ‘Female Eunuch’ book of 1970 became an international bestseller, and continues to divide opinion nearly 50 years on. Critics reviews ranged from hailing it a “marvellous book” (Camille Paglia) to slamming it as “all over the place, impulsive, and fatally naïve” (Laura Miller).
5. David Unaipon
Unaipon is credited as the first Aboriginal writer to publish works in English, telling traditional Aboriginal stories. A constantly creative mind, Unaipon was also an inventor, but always struggled to gain acceptance and recognition due to his race.