Patrick White Letters

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University of Chicago Press, Jun 15, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 677 pages
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"Letters are the devil, and I always hope that any I have written have been destroyed."—Patrick White

Patrick White spent his whole life writing letters. He wanted them all burnt, but thousands survive to reveal him as one of the greatest letter-writers of his time. Patrick White: Letters is an unexpected and final volume of prose by Australia's most acclaimed novelist. Only a few scraps of White's letters have been published before.

From the aftermath of the First World War until his death in 1990, letters poured from White's pen: they are shrewd, funny, dramatic, pigheaded, camp, and above all, hauntingly beautiful. He wrote novels to sway a hostile world, but letters were for friends.

The culmination of ten years' work and reflection by David Marr, author of the well-received biography Patrick White: A Life, the volume tells the story of White's life in his own words. These are the letters of a great writer, a profound critic, a gossip with the sharpest eyes and tongue, a man who loved and hated ferociously, a keen cook, an angry patriot, and a believer never free of doubt.

"A literary milestone."—Kirkus Reviews

"Mean-spirited and brilliant, the 600 letters collected here offer real insight into the life of the Nobel-Prize winning Australian author. White's venom is matched by his torment, and the whole volume is redeemed by outstanding writing."—Publisher's Weekly ("Best Books 96")

"[T]hose who come to these letters after having read Marr's biography will expect more than shop talk from the master novelist. They will expect the bracing bitchiness of a master curmudgeon. And they will not be disappointed."—Frank Wilson, Philadelphia Inquirer

Patrick White (1912-1990), Australian novelist and playwright, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973. His many novels include Voss, The Twyborn Affair, and Riders in the Chariot.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A swarming and copious selection of letters by the Nobel Prizewinning novelist and playwright. ``My life is a series of blunders and recoveries and so it will be, I expect, till the end.'' Described ... Read full review


User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Australian novelist, playwright, and poet White, who won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973, wrote scores of letters--600 of which appear in this volume. Dating from 1918 to 1989, the letters begin ... Read full review

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About the author (1996)

Patrick White was born on May 28, 1912 in Knightsbridge, London, to Australian parents. He studied modern languages at King's College, Cambridge. During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force. His first novel, Happy Valley, was published in 1939. His other works include The Tree of Man, Voss, Riders in the Chariot, The Solid Mandala, The Twyborn Affair, and The Hanging Garden. He also wrote several plays including The Season at Sarsaparilla, Night on Bald Mountain, and Signal Driver. They never met with the success his fiction had and have not been produced outside Australia. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. He died on September 30, 1990.

David Marr was born on July 14, 1947 in Sydney, Australia. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Sydney. He began his career as an article clerk for the law firm. Later he was admitted as a barrister and solicitor. His career in journalism began at ABC TV as a reporter for Four Corners (1985, 1990-1991). He won a Walkley Award for his work on the program. His other programs for ABC included Media Watch and Insiders. Currently he writes for The Montly, The Staurday Paper and Guardian Australia. He is the author of over ten books. His first books were Barwick, Allen & Unwin (1980), The Ivanov Trail, Nelson (1984) and Patrick White: A Life (1991). His more recent work includes Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd (2010), Panic (2011), Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott (2012), The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell (2013), and Faction Man: Bill Shortens Path to Power (2015). His awards include the Liberty Victoria Voltaire Award (2012), Alfred Deakin Prize for an Essay Advancing Public Debate, for 'Do Not Disturb: Is the Media Asleep?', Victoria Premier's Literary Awards (2006), and Walkley Awards (1991 and 1985).

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