Before the outbreak of the Second World War, writer and artist Donald Friend travelled extensively, living in England, France and West Africa. During the war he served in the artillery and was an official war artist from 1945-1946. His work from this period is collected in Fry and Fry's Donald Friend: Australian War Artist.
Following the war, Friend continued to travel, and lived in a number of locales, including Europe, Sri Lanka, New Guinea and Borneo, returning to Australia in 1980 due to ill health.
His richly illustrated diary, which he kept from the age of 16 until just before his death, provided inspiration for much of his work and is now held by the National Library of Australia.