Writers Walk in Sydney Honors Australian Authors
Underfoot and downtrodden? No, these writers—with their metal plaques embedded along the walkway around Sydney's Circular Quay—are actually being honored, and their lives and works celebrated, on the Sydney Writers Walk. You will find these plaques from the Overseas Passenger Terminal on West Circular Quay, down to the walkway between the ferry jetties and the train station, and all the way to the side of the Sydney Opera House forecourt on East Circular Quay.
The authors represented on the Writers Walk include not only Australians but also those who lived in or visited Australia. These writers include D. H. Lawrence, Rudyard Kipling, and Mark Twain, among others.
The plaques, arranged here in alphabetical order by surname, provide for interesting and informative reading in a capsule form.
Brisbane-born Australian author Thea Astley won a number of prestigious Australian literary awards. Since this plaque was first placed in the Writers Walk, her Miles Franklin Awards have grown to four: "The Well Dressed Explorer" in 1962 (sharing the award with George Turner), "The Slow Natives" in 1965, "The Acolyte" in 1972, and "Drylands" in 2000. Thea Astley died in 2004.
Daughter of a Vanuatu Island man brought to Australia by slave traders, Faith Bandler was an activist for constitutional change.
After experiencing firsthand the savage battles of World War I, Australian historian and official war correspondent Charles Bean—who went ashore with the ANZAC at Gallipoli in 1915—planned, and pushed for, the establishment of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. He is credited with being a major force in the creation of the legend of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps ).
Poet, critic, scholar, and a prominent figure in Sydney Bohemian circles, Brennan's poetry has been compared with T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats.
Victorian-born writer Carey has won every major award in Australian literature and has had several of his books translated into film.
Conrad, probably best known for his novella "Heart of Darkness," made several brief visits to Australia.
Corris was a historian, journalist, and creator of the Private Investigator Cliff Hardy character.
Dark's trilogy, "The Timeless Land," shed light on the first five years of European settlement in Australia.
The British naturalist, best known for his "Origin of Species" on evolution and natural selection, spent a few months in Australia. The Northern Territory capital is named after him.
Dennis wrote in the Australian vernacular in his humorous poems, earning for the appellation of "laureate of the larrikin" for his prolific work.
Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the Sherlock Holmes character, was in Australia in 1920 and 1921 for a series of lecture tours on spiritualism.
Historian, philosopher, and novelist, Eco wrote "The Name of the Rose," which was made into a film, and "Foucault's Pendulum" in addition to a number of philosophical works. Eco died in 2016.
Hope was a satirical poet and essayist. The American Journal called him "the 20th century's greatest 18th-century poet." He died in 2000.
Sydney-born Robert Hughes was an art critic, writer, and television documentary maker who gained an international reputation with his books and writings on history and art. He lived in New York from 1970 and died there from illness on August 6, 2012.
Australian novelist Thomas Keneally has had a number of his books turned into movies, with probably the most notable of them being "Schindler's Ark," which director Steven Spielberg retitled as "Schindler's List" for the film version. The movie won seven U.S. Academy Awards in 1994 including Best Film and Best Director.
"Lady Chatterley's Lover" author D.H. Lawrence lived on the New South Wales South Coast in 1922 where he wrote the semi-autobiographical "Kangaroo."
Michener was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author known for "Tales of the South Pacific." He died in 1997.
Oodgeroo Noonuccal, born on Queensland's North Stradbroke Island in 1920, was named Kathleen Jean Mary Ruska at birth. An indigenous Australian writer and campaigner for Aboriginal rights, she became well known as Kath Walker, having married and later separated from an Aboriginal boxer and welder named Bruce Walker. In 1988 she adopted the name of her tribe, Noonuccal, in honor of the Aboriginal people's cause, naming herself Oodgeroo (meaning "paperbark tree") Noonuccal.
Noonuccal was the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of poetry, "We Are Going" (1964). In her lifetime, she received numerous literary and other awards including an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 1970. In 1987 on the eve of the Australian Bicentenary celebrations marking 200 years since Europeans first settled Australia, Noonuccal relinquished the MBE to make a political statement about the condition of the Aboriginal people.
Oodgeroo Noonuccal died in 1993.
A.B. "Banjo" Paterson
Born in 1864, Andrew Barton Paterson was a poet, ballad writer, journalist, and horseman perhaps best known for having written "Waltzing Matilda," the alternative Australian national anthem, and the Outback narrative poem "The Man From Snowy River," which was made into a film.
Paterson was born at Narrambla, near Orange, in western New South Wales. He attended school in Binalong near Narrambla, then Sydney Grammar School. He subsequently became a solicitor and in the late 1880s started publishing verse in The Bulletin and Sydney Mail, using the pseudonyms "B" and "Banjo," from which the name Banjo Paterson came about.
"Waltzing Matilda" is said to have been composed in 1895, during which year the book "The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses" was published. The book sold out within a week and went through four more editions in the next six months.
Paterson died in 1941 after a life lived in law, writing, and war. He worked as a war correspondent in the Boer War and served as an ambulance driver in World War I. Paterson was married to Alice Walker, with whom he had two children, Grace and Hugh.
Australian poet and critic Douglas Stewart was editor of the Red Page of "The Bulletin" and was publishing editor for Australian publishers Angus & Robertson for 10 years.
American writer and humorist Mark Twain visited not only Australia but also New Zealand. After a visit to Dunedin, he wrote: "The people here are Scots. They stopped here on their way to heaven, thinking they had arrived."
West is known for 1959's "The Devil's Advocate." His announced "final" book "The Lovers" (1993) was followed by two more: "Vanishing Point" (1996) and "Eminence" (1998). Melbourne-born Morris West died in Sydney in 1999.
Australia's only Nobel Laureate in literature, Patrick White was born in London in 1912 while his parents were there on a visit. White's first novel, "Happy Valley" (1939), was set in New South Wales. Some of his novels include "The Tree of Man" (1955), "Voss" (1957), "Riders in the Chariot" (1961), "The Solid Mandala" (1966), and "The Twyborn Affair" (1979). He also wrote several plays, including "The Season at Sarsaparilla."
White received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973 "for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature."
He died in Sydney in 1990.
David Williamson is one of Australia's more prolific playwrights with a strong focus on contemporary mores and issues. A number of his works have been made into movies, including "Don's Party," "The Club," "Travelling North," "Emerald City," and "The Perfectionist." In 2002, his play "Up for Grabs" was staged at London's West End and starred American singer Madonna.