Les Murray: A Life in Progress

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 391 pages
Les Murray is one of Australia's finest poets, and a noted critic and essayist. He is also an original and controversial political thinker. Peter F. Alexander's pioneering biography reveals how this complex man endured the harshest and most anti-intellectual of childhoods to develop into oneof the most famous poets writing in English today.Peter Alexander deals in absorbing and intimate detail with Murray's poverty-stricken upbringing on a New South Wales dairy farm, the terrible death of his mother when he was twelve, his miserable schooling, and his decision to become a poet. Then follow the wild years at Sydney University, themental breakdown that led to Murray's discovery of the interior of his country, and his salvation through marriage to the beautiful Valerie Morelli. The biography details Murray's dedication to his poetry, his slow but steady rise to fame, and his role in the invigorating poetic wars that convulsedAustralian writers for three decades. The book climaxes with Murray's breakdown of the late 1980s and the near-death experience that at last brought him escape from depression. This is a riveting story, told with all the psychological subtlety and narrative thrust of a good novel. It places LesMurray where he belongs, at the centre of his country literary life through the second half of the twentieth century.

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The Beginning 18481938
Childhood 193851

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About the author (2000)

Peter F. Alexander was educated at the universities of the Witwatersrand, Leeds and Cambridge. He has written biographies of Roy Campbell, William Plomer, and Alan Paton (all published by OUP). He has also edited a selection of the verse of Roy Campbell for OUP, and has collaborated in afour-volume edition of all Campbell's writing. He is currently Professor of English at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

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