Patrick White (1912-1990)
Australia's best-known writer was born in 1912 in London, where his parents were on holiday. His family was long established in New South Wales, and his great-grandparents had been among the earliest pioneers of the New England district.
He spent all his early years in Sydney, but his secondary and college education took place in England.
When World War II broke out he served in the British Royal Air Force as an operation intelligence officer in the Middle East and in Greece. After the war he settled on a small farm near Sydney. His first novels were published abroad and generally went unrecognized in Australia, where he finally acclaimed as a great writer only after the publication of The Tree of Man in 1955. In 1973 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 1990. His best works include Voss (1957) and Memoirs of many in One (1986). White's style is quite personal. Throughout a particular use of punctuation, he produces a kind of poetic prose hardly conforming to conventional English syntax. He makes a wide use of images and metaphors as well as religious symbolism and mixes of abstract and concrete words in statements, with somewhat absurd results. He does not try to reproduce colloquial speech but privileges an elaborate, highly wrought language on the verge of baroque. He makes limited use of Australianisms and often intrudes into the text through direct comment or open moral judgement.