Patrick White

Patrick Victor Martindale White (28 May 1912 30 September 1990) was an Australian writer who, from 1935 to 1987, published 12 novels, three short-story collections and eight plays.
White's fiction employs humour, florid prose, shifting narrative vantage points and a stream of consciousness technique. In 1973, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature", as it says in the Swedish Academy's citation, the first and so far only Australian to have been awarded the prize. White was also the inaugural recipient of the Miles Franklin Award.
At the age of ten, White was sent to Tudor House School, a boarding school in Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, in an attempt to abate his asthma. It took him some time to adjust to the presence of other children. At boarding school, he started to write plays. Even at this early age, White wrote about palpably adult themes. In 1924, the boarding school ran into financial trouble, and the headmaster suggested for White to be sent to a public school in England, a suggestion that his parents accepted.
During White's time at Cambridge he published a collection of poetry entitled The Ploughman and Other Poems, and wrote a play named Bread and Butter Women, which was later performed by an amateur group (which included his sister Suzanne) at the tiny Bryant's Playhouse in Sydney. After being admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1935, White briefly settled in London, where he lived in an area that was frequented by artists. There, the young author thrived creatively for a time, writing several unpublished works and reworking Happy Valley, a novel that he had written while jackarooing. In 1937, White's father died, leaving him ten thousand pounds in inheritance. The fortune enabled him to write full-time in relative comfort. Two more plays followed before he succeeded in finding a publisher for Happy Valley. The novel was received well in London but poorly in Australia. He began writing another novel, Nightside, but abandoned it before its completion after receiving negative comments, a decision that he later admitted regretting.
In 1968, White wrote The Vivisector, a searing character portrait of an artist. Many people drew links to the Sydney painter John Passmore (190484) and White's friend, the painter Sidney Nolan, but White denied the connections. Patrick White was an art collector who had, as a young man, been deeply impressed by his friends Roy De Maistre and Francis Bacon, and later said he wished he had been an artist. By the mid-1960s, he had also become interested in encouraging dozens of young and less established artists, such as James Clifford, Erica McGilchrist, and Lawrence Daws. White was later friends with Brett Whiteley, the young star of Australian painting, in the 1970s. That friendship ended when White felt that Whiteley, a heroin addict, was deceitful and pushy about selling his paintings. A portrait of White by Louis Kahan won the 1962 Archibald Prize.
He got on with critics personally as long as they praised his work. The Sydney Morning Herald drama critic H. G. Kippax was an early champion, being one of the few critics who wrote favourably of The Ham Funeral. Of its 1961 Adelaide premiere, he wrote that the play "brilliantly suggests a way out of the impasse in which the Australian drama finds itself". After the 1962 Sydney premiere, he wrote: "I am not going to mince words or hedge against the future. I believe the professional performance of The Ham Funeral at the Palace... is an epoch-making event". However, he and White fell out over more negative critiques of some later White plays. David Marr writes that Kippax "had come to think all White's later plays were trash". For his part, White now regarded Kippax as a "deadhead". They also had diametrically opposing views of the plays of Louis Nowra: what Kippax loved in Nowra, White was sure to hate and vice versa.