Sunday, August 13, 2017


A  recent  read  ,    Dying  A Memoir by   Donald Horne   and   his  wife , Myfanwy   Horne , Viking  2007 ,  brought  out  the  fact   that    the  Northern Territory   had  influenced  his  early writing .  He  recalled that as  an  18  year old university student  he   wrote several  sonnets  which were published, panned  by a   poet friend .  This  response, he wrote ,  had  caused  him  to  brood   for several  months  and  he  gave up   writing  experimental  sonnets.

However, posted to the  Northern Territory   during  WWll , the images   there  impressed him so much  he began  writing  about them  in letters ;  late in life ,  dying  from  pulmonary fibrosis , he wondered if  he had  persisted with  sonnet  writing  he would  have  produced  distinctive works . At  this  late stage in  his  life he could  have been  lying  in  bed dictating  sonnets.

One of his interesting  essays in the book   further explained  the  part    the   Northern Territory played  in the education  of young  Donald . While serving  as  a  gunner  in  various parts of the Top End, at one stage in  a    commandeered  square of houses  near a  bombed Darwin hotel , he , surprisingly , received   quality overseas   publications  from  friends   ,  monthlies and  quarterlies , from Britain  and America ,  which   had  a big effect  on him ....The Economist  changed my  life . 
The Northern Territory, he wrote, added  to the list  of  things  in which   he was   ready to  take  an  intelligent   interest .

Other  subjects covered in the essays include   his  views  on  the media , democracy ,  politics   and   the   dismissal   of  the  Whitlam  Government-all relevant  to  the  not so  lucky  nation  today .  
Myfanwy  Horne , a former  Sydney Morning Herald journalist, was consulting editor  to all her husband's published work , starting with the   The Lucky Country in 1964. She was involved pro bono in various cultural  and social projects , including the photographic exhibition, The Struggle  for Australian  Democracy  1788  to the Present , which toured  in  the   late l970s.   

Donald  Horne,  born Sydney  1921, diplomatic  cadet, journalist  , magazine  editor  and  academic ,  became a  household name with publication of   The Lucky Country ,  died    2005 .  
Just released  is  Donald Horne : Selected Writings , edited by son Nick Horne , La Trobe University Press  .