WHITE, Patrick (1912 - 1990)
Happy Valley : a novel
London : George C. Harrap, 1939. First edition. Octavo, original blue-lettered tan cloth in full dust jacket (slightly soiled, a few creases and small areas of loss to the corners), bookseller's label to front free endpaper, some slight offsetting to endpapers and adjoining leaves, light scattered foxing.
Happy Valley, the first novel by arguably Australia's greatest author, was published in London in 1939 when White was just 26 years old. The 3000 copies printed sold out within a month, and the novel was widely praised by critics in New York, London and Australia. It won the Australian Literature Society's Gold Medal in 1941. White never allowed the story to be reprinted: according to his biographer David Marr his story's character was based on (and named after) an actual family White knew, and the author feared a libel suit if their descendants made the link (Sydney Morning Herald, 26 May 2012).
The novel is one of the great stories of Australian identity, framed against the backdrop of small town intricacies, and already displays White's gift for creating complex characters. White was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973 (Australia's only recipient). In the words of Thomas Keneally, he was 'one of those writers who won the Nobel prize for literature because he really deserved it' (The Guardian, 19 December 2012). On the centenary of White's birth, and over seventy years after the last edition issued in English, Happy Valley was republished under authority of the exectutor of White's estate, making it available once more to the reading public.
Reference: HUBBER, Brian and SMITH, Vivian. Patrick White : A Bibliography. Melbourne : Quiddler's Press and Delaware : Oak Knoll Press, 2004. C1a
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