Patrick White

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Miles Franklin Literary Award
1957 Voss
1961 Riders in the Chariot
Australian of the Year Award
1973

Patrick Victor Martindale White (28 May 1912 – 30 September 1990), an Australian author, was widely regarded as a major English-language novelist of the 20th century. From 1935 until his death, he published 12 novels, two short-story collections and eight plays.

White's fiction freely employs shifting narrative vantage points and a stream of consciousness technique. In 1973, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature—the only Australian to have been awarded the prize. The Vivisector was posthumously shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize in 2010.

Contents

Childhood and adolescence

White was born in Knightsbridge, London, to an English-Australian father and a English mother . His family later moved to Sydney, Australia when he was six months old. As a child he lived in one flat with his sister, nanny and a maid; while his parents lived in an adjoining flat.

At the age of four White developed asthma, a condition that had taken the life of his maternal grandfather. White's health was fragile throughout his childhood which, while it precluded his participation in many childhood activities, stimulated his imagination. He would perform private rites in the garden and would dance for his mother’s friends. He loved the theatre which he first visited at an early age.

At the age of ten White was sent to Tudor House School, a boarding school in the New South Wales highlands, in an attempt to abate his asthma. It took him some time to adjust to the presence of other children. At boarding school he started to write plays. Even at this early age White wrote about noticeably adult themes. In 1924, the boarding school ran into financial trouble and the headmaster suggested that White be sent to public school in England; a suggestion which his parents accepted.[citation needed]

White struggled to adjust to his new surroundings at Cheltenham College. He later described it as "a four-year prison sentence". White withdrew socially and had a limited circle of acquaintances. Occasionally, he would holiday with his parents at European locations, but their relationship remained distant.

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