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Patrick White Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Happy Valley (1939)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Living and the Dead (1941)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Aunt's Story (1948)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Tree of Man (1955)Description / Buy at Amazon
Voss (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
Riders in the Chariot (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Solid Mandala (1966)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Vivisector (1970)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Eye of the Storm (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Fringe of Leaves (1976)Description / Buy at Amazon
The God In The Rafters (1978)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Twyborn Affair (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Memoirs of Many in One (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hanging Garden (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Plays

The Night The Prowler: Short Story And Screenplay (1974)Description / Buy at Amazon
Netherwood (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Signal Driver: A Morality Play For The Times (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

The Burnt Ones (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon
Collected Plays Volume 1 (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Cockatoos: Shorter Novels and Stories (1974)Description / Buy at Amazon
Three Uneasy Pieces (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
Patrick White: Selected Writings (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Collected Short Stories (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Flaws in the Glass: A Self-Portrait (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
Patrick White Speaks (With: Paul Brennan) (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Patrick White: Letters (With: David Marr) (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Best for Winter(1979)Description / Buy at Amazon

Patrick White is a historical fiction and fiction author that is regarded as one of the major novelists of the past century. The author was born in London in 1912 as the eldest child of the grazier Martindale White an Australian from New South Wales and his English-born wife Ruth Withycombe who also had roots in New South Wales. His paternal grandfather was property owner Francis White who had several properties in Edinglassie, Belltrees, and Martindale in New South Wales. In 1916, his father bought a large house in Elizabeth Sydney that he named Lulworth. White was soon afflicted with asthma and he never got back his health until his death. In 1920, Patrick got into Cranbrook School in Sydney but two years later, he transferred to the Tudor House boarding school where the climate was supposedly better for his asthma. From a very young age, his mother who had encouraged his artistic proclivities took him with her to the theatre which is something that she had always loved. Very enthusiastic about the theatre, Patrick wrote “Love Awakening,” his first play and then published a poem in the school magazine in 1924.

In 1925, the White family traveled to England and Patrick White enrolled at Cheltenham College. He would later assert that he felt abandoned by his parents during a time when he realized that he was homosexual. As such, he never did enjoy his time at Cheltenham which was made worse by the fact that he also had asthma. With no one to turn to, he had begun writing poems and reading widely as a coping mechanism. Some of the poems that he wrote would later be published privately by his mother in 1929/30 under the title “Thirteen Poems.” Patrick also visited the theatre whenever he found the time. When he had finished schooling he went back to Sydney and he felt as much of an alien as he had in the UK. Soon after, a friend of his father offered him a job in the Snowy Mountains and while he did not think much of the opportunity, he took it. His experiences and the landscape would be the inspiration for the manuscript for “The Immigrants” that he would later rework into his debut novel “Happy Valley” that was published in 1939. In 1931, his uncle Clem Withycombe asked him to go become a jackeroo and it was while he was working at Walgett that he finally finished writing the manuscript for “Sullen Moon” his second novel.

Patrick White never wanted to live a life of tending to cattle and sheep and in 1932 he left his jackeroo job to go back to college. He got admission at the University of Cambridge’s King’s College where he graduated with a bachelor in modern languages in 1935. He still wrote his poetry while studying and in 1934 he was lucky enough to get two of his writings featured in the “London Mercury.” “The Ploughman and Other Poems” was published the following year and “Bread and Butter Women,” the play he had been working on for months debuted in Sydney. After he graduated from college, he managed to convince his parents to grant him a monthly allowance that he could live off while freelancing as a writer in London. He found a flat to rent in Ebury Street and this would become the setting for the 1941 published “The Living and the Dead.” Elyot Standish the lead protagonist is a writer and just the type of person Patrick White hoped to never become. Roy de Maistre the modernist painter from Australia was another neighbor in Ebury Street and the two would briefly become loves. Nonetheless, Roy was more of an aesthetic and intellectual mentor to White and encouraged him to rewrite his manuscript into “Happy Valley.” White had some success at the theatre during the 1930s when Peter Plover’s Party his skit was featured in a West End revue performance. In 1939, he headed to the US to find a publisher for his debut novel. Back in the UK, he learned that the American publisher Ben Huebsch that had published the early works of DH Lawrence and James Joyce had accepted his novel. He has never looked back since and now has more than a dozen novels, half a dozen collections, and several plays.

“Voss” by Patrick White is the story of German explorer Johann Ulrich Voss who is going on a quest to cross the Australian outback. He is going on the journey alongside a small band of travelers among them Laura Trevelyan. Laura is a slightly naïve, young, and lovely orphan who is newly arrived in town from New South Wales. Laura had met Voss for the first time when he had visited Mr. Bonner her uncle who is also the patron of the cross country expedition across Australia. They have a complicated relationship and they bond not over the tenderness and warmth of each other but a passionate obsession grows each day they are apart. The first third of the story sets the scene and the subsequent chapters alternate between Laura’s home life and the adventures of Voss. While Voss is the one going across the country, both protagonists embark on a journey of self-realization and self-discovery. White sees the Australian desert as an overwhelmingly hot and dangerous place where anything that could go wrong usually does. Things get interesting when the traveling party is split into two and doom and oblivion takes hold.

Patrick White’s “The Tree of Man” follows Stan Parker a man who along with Amy Parker his wife settle in Sydney on a small patch of land. They are living in the early years of the twentieth century and White writes their story as a family saga but without the typical melodrama that is typically found in similar narratives. White writes in a modernist style as he colors his story with the subjective feelings and thoughts of his characters but avoids the modernist stream of consciousness. Through this, he makes an allusive impressionist narrative that imbues the everyday aspects of Amy and Stan’s lives with the typical Australian mysticism. The modernist style makes for a challenging but interesting read as it explores existential themes in the lives of the lead protagonists as they get children, take care of their dairy farm and deal with the many vagaries of life. Against the elemental landscape of the outback, it is clear that Amy and Stan live very profound lives. But the author also rips apart the certainty they had by reminding them that any control they may have over their destinies has limits.

The novel “Riders in the Chariot” by Patrick White is a quintessential novel that tells the stories of our people who have intertwined lives. Miss Hare is a seemingly mad woman that was once upon a time been an influential aristocrat while Himmelfarb who was once a college professor now works menial jobs and does not have any sighs of his former status or even possessions. Mrs. Godbold is a washerwoman that has several daughters and together they live in a rundown building while the half-caste painter is given to fits of drunkenness when he is not working his day job as a janitor. Even as Patrick White writes a convincing story from the perspective of each of the characters that he invokes sympathy, it is soon clear that there many others in their vicinity living partial lives and just as impoverished of spirit. His characters are solitary sufferers and misfits that champion a lot of interest for their world but sometimes very little for others.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Patrick White

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