Patrick White


Patrick White

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Patrick White
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1973

Born: 28 May 1912, London, United Kingdom

Died: 30 September 1990, Sydney, Australia

Residence at the time of the award: Australia

Prize motivation: “for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature”

Language: English

Prize share: 1/1


Patrick White was born in London, Great Britain. He grew up in Sydney, Australia, but was sent back to England at the age of 13 to study at Cheltenham College. He made his literary debut with poetry and a play in 1935. During World War II, White served in the British intelligence service. He returned to Sydney after the war and resumed his writing career. Over the years White became involved in political affairs. Among other things, he took a stand against nuclear weapons and for the rights of Australia’s indigenous people.


Patrick White’s novels and plays explore the history of his native Australia and its inhabitants. During his lifetime he was more popular internationally than at home, where his critical gaze was not always appreciated. He published his first novel, Happy Valley, in 1939. His big breakthrough came with The Tree of Man (1955), a novel about how a farmer and his wife toil to create a future in rural Australia. A recurring theme in White’s novels is modern humankind’s experience of loneliness and emptiness.

To cite this section
MLA style: Patrick White – Facts. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Tue. 5 Mar 2024. <>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.