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”
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.
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