The Patrick White/Elizabeth Forbes Collection consists of 67 signed autograph and typed letters from the author Patrick White to Elizabeth Forbes, a representative at G. Heywood Hill, Ltd., bookdealer in London. The correspondence relates to book orders made by White to the bookdealer.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Patrick Victor Martindale White was an Australian citizen born abroad on May 28, 1912, in London, England. His parents were Victor Matindale White and Ruth Withycombe. White had spent most of his boyhood in Australia, but returned to England to study languages at King's College, Cambridge University, where he received his B.A. in 1935. During the Second World War he joined the Royal Air Force, serving as an intelligence officer in the Middle East. After the war, he returned to Sydney.
In 1940, White's first novel, "Happy Valley," won the Australian Literature Society's gold medal. In 1956, his novel "The Tree of Man" also won the Literature Society's gold medal, and secured his international literary reputation. White's best known novels are, "Voss" (1957) which won the Miles Franklin Award (1958) and the W.H. Smith & Son Literary Award (1959); "Riders in the Chariot" (1961) which won the Miles Franklin Award (1962) and the National Conference of Christians and Jews brotherhood award (1962); "A Fringe of Leaves," (1976); and his plays, "Big Toys" (1978), "Signal Driver" (1983), and "Netherwood" (1983). White also wrote an autobiography, "Flaws in the Glass" published in 1981.
In 1973, White was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his realistic portrayal of Australian life in such novels as "The Eye of the Storm" and "Voss." His portrayals, described by the New York Times as often "harsh" and "unflattering" made him less popular with his countrymen than with readers abroad in England and the U.S. However, despite his criticism, for White, Australia was always his intellectual and spiritual homeland: "It's the country of my origins - that, I think, is what matters in the end, whether one likes it or not...it's from Australian earth, Australian air, that I derive my literary, my spiritual, sustenance. Even at its most hateful, Australia is necessary to me..." (New York Times, Obituaries, October 1, 1990).
An avowed socialist who was unafraid to criticize government, especially in its treatment of the aborigines, White openly boycotted the 1988 celebrations commemorating two hundred years of white settlement in Australia.
White's avocational interests included cooking, gardening, and music. He was never married, and resided with friend Manoly Lascaris, on the produce from his duck farm in New South Wales until his death on September 30, 1990.
Sources for this biographical sketch and for a more complete listing of White's works are as follows:
Contemporary Authors, Volume 132.
Contemporary Authors; New Revision Series, Volume 43.
New York Times; Obituaries (October 1, 1990).
Marr, Jonathan. "Patrick White; a Life," (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992).
White, Patrick. "Flaws in the Glass," (London: Jonathan Cape, 1981; New York: Viking, 1981).
ACCESSION DATA: Provenance: Acquired August 1995 Processed by Lisette C. Matano, October 1995 Collection status: Not restricted. Finding aid available.
BULK DATES: 1965 - 1973
SPAN DATES: 1965 - 1973
EXTENT: 1 box