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Fotheringham, Rowan. (1984). [Portrait of David Malouf 1984] Retrieved February 23, 2017, from
David Malouf David Malouf i(A11306 works by) (a.k.a. George Joseph David Malouf)
Born: Established: 1934 Brisbane, Queensland, ;
Gender: Male
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David Malouf's paternal family came to Australia in the 1880s from Lebanon. His mother's family, Sephardic Jews from Spain who had gone to England via Holland, migrated to Australia in 1913 after suffering financial difficulties. Malouf was born at 'Yasmar', a private hospital in South Brisbane, the suburb where his childhood home at 12 Edmondstone Street was located. He has written about that home and other places of significance in 12 Edmondstone Street (1985). Scarborough, north of Brisbane, was a favourite place of childhood. His earliest writing was for a neighbourhood newspaper when he was about seven.

After he read Kenneth Slessor, at sixteen, Malouf realised poetry could be about Australia - and about consciousness, rather than telling a story - and he started to write poetry seriously. Slessor's poem 'South Country' Malouf regards as being a crucial turning point in the history of Australian poetry and as being one that became crucial to him too. Malouf has said that Wallace Stevens is the poet who influenced him the most and remained a favourite. One of Malouf's friends, Judith Green (later Rodriguez), sent some of his early manuscript poems to Clem Christesen and one of them, published in Meanjin, was Malouf's first published verse. Malouf was educated at Brisbane Grammar School and The University of Queensland where he taught after completing a degree. At 24, he left Australia and remained abroad for almost ten years, teaching in England and travelling in Europe. During this period abroad, he contributed columns on art, drama, and teaching to Australian newspapers.

In 1968, he returned to Australia and was appointed senior tutor and, later, lecturer at the University of Sydney.

In 'A Writing Life: The 2000 Neustadt Lecture', Malouf said,

A good many of my novels deal with verifiable moments in Australian history, not with known events but with that underside of events which is where most of us experience them, and in many cases go on experiencing them as pain or loss. I would want to call this an interior history, and what interests me is that in the ordinary way of things, so much of this, in Australia, goes unexpressed: unwritten about but also unspoken...

For him, Patrick White was a very enabling writer because he made important a writing from inside and a writing about what happens in people's heads, rather than action. The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature asserts that there are key themes that recur throughout Malouf's diverse body of work: 'the relationships between past and present, continuity and change, animal and human, and the role of language as a mediator of experience'.

Malouf learnt to play the piano and the violin in his youth. Music has always been very important to him because 'it represents another language and another mode of apprehension of what reality might be and of what feelings might be. It is close to what you're trying to make, it seems to me, in writing a poem or a novel.' (Bulletin interview 2004).

Since becoming a full-time writer, Malouf has also lived in Italy. While living in Sydney, he formed a close friendship with Bruce Beaver and assisted with his full-time care during Beaver's illness. Malouf has won many honours for his work, including the Order of Australia, and has become one of Australia's most highly regarded writers. In 1992, The University of Queensland recognised Dr Malouf's distinguished contributions to Australian literature by awarding him an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters. Malouf also accepted an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters, University of Sydney, at a ceremony in March 1998.

In 2014, the year of his 80th birthday, a series of events were held in Queensland and around the country to celebrate his extraordinary contribution to Australian literary culture. In the same year he was named the Australian Book Review inaugural Laureate of the year. In 2016, he received the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature.



Most Referenced Works


  • While in Europe in the mid-1960s, David Malouf contributed columns on art, drama, and other topics to Australian newspapers. AustLit is aware of but has not yet indexed this body of Malouf's work. To access a sampling of this work via Trove, click here.

  • Malouf's archives and papers are held at the Fryer Library, The University of Queensland and The National Library of Australia.

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon An Open Book St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2018 14731084 2018 selected work poetry

'An Open Book celebrates the power of poetry and reaffirms David Malouf as one of Australia's most celebrated and beloved writers.

'This is only David Malouf's third new poetry volume in nearly 40 years, so it is a significant publishing event. As one of Australia's greatest living poets, Malouf continues to meditate and reflect on themes of mortality and memory.

'The poems in An Open Book are attentive and evocative, vital and beautiful, revisiting and reimagining some of the key themes that have resonated with readers over his impressive career. Like the 'small comfort of light . . . as night comes on', Malouf's new poems hold close the precious and tender.

'Only a few of these poems have ever been published, so most of the collection will be completely new to readers everywhere. An Open Book will be the literary gift of the Christmas and summer of 2018. ' (Publication summary)

2020 shortlisted New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry
y separately published work icon Earth Hour St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2014 6858541 2014 selected work poetry

'In his first full volume of poetry since Typewriter Music in 2007, David Malouf once again shows us why he is one of Australia's most enduring and respected writers.' (Publisher's blurb)

2016 shortlisted Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Poetry
2015 shortlisted Prime Minister's Literary Awards Poetry
2015 winner New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry
2015 shortlisted ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal
2014 winner Queensland Literary Awards Judith Wright Calanthe Award
y separately published work icon Ransom North Sydney : Knopf Australia , 2009 Z1529380 2009 single work novel (taught in 20 units) 'With learning worn lightly and in his own lyrical language, David Malouf revisits Homer's Iliad. Focusing on the unbreakable bonds between men - Priam and Hector, Patroclus and Achilles, Priam and the cart-driver hired to retrieve Hector's body. Pride, grief, brutality, love and neighbourliness are explored.' (Publisher's blurb)
2011 shortlisted International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
2010 winner John D. Criticos Prize
2009 shortlisted Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Fiction
2010 shortlisted Australian Booksellers Association Awards Booksellers Choice Award
2010 shortlisted Prime Minister's Literary Awards Fiction
2010 shortlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Book of the Year
2010 shortlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Literary Fiction Book of the Year
2010 shortlisted New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards People's Choice Award
2010 shortlisted New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Christina Stead Prize for Fiction
2010 winner ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal
2010 winner Festival Awards for Literature (SA) Award for Fiction
2009 shortlisted Queensland Premier's Literary Awards Best Fiction Book
2009 shortlisted The Age Book of the Year Award Fiction Prize

Known archival holdings

Albinski 147
National Library of Australia (ACT)
University of Queensland University of Queensland Library (QLD)
Last amended 28 Jul 2021 15:05:35
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