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y separately published work icon Happy Valley : A Novel single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 1939... 1939 Happy Valley : A Novel
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Based on Patrick White's own experiences in the early 1930s as a jackaroo at Bolaro, near Adaminaby in south-eastern New South Wales, Happy Valley paints a portrait of a community in a desolate landscape. It is a jagged and restless study of small-town and country life.

'White was twenty-seven when Happy Valley was published by George C. Harrop in London. This mesmerising first novel gives us a prolonged glimpse of literary genius in the making. It won the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal in 1941, but White did not allow the novel to be republished in English in his lifetime. Its appearance now in the Text Classics series is a major literary event.

'Happy Valley is the missing piece in the extraordinary jigsaw of White's work.' (Text Publishing's abstract for the 2012 Text Classics publication.)


  • Dedication: To Roy De Maistre.
  • Epigraph: It is impossible to do away with the law of suffering, which is the one indispensable condition of our being. Progress is to be measured by the amount of suffering undergone ... the purer the suffering, the greater is the progress. - Mahatma Gandhi.


* Contents derived from the Melbourne, Victoria,:Text Publishing , 2012 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
'A Hell of a Calling Card' : Patrick White's Jackeroo Epic Is Finally Reissued, Peter Craven , single work criticism

Peter Craven concludes his introduction to Patrick White's Happy Valley by saying that the novel 'is a book we need to rediscover. It gives us White as a fledgling novelist, as fresh and wonderstruck and full of a desire to recreate the world as ever Australia was blessed with.'

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • London,
      United Kingdom (UK),
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Harrap ,
      1939 .
      image of person or book cover 3231326423140225394.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 327p.
      Reprinted: 1939 , 1940
      • Published in February 1939.
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      United States of America (USA),
      Viking ,
      1940 .
      image of person or book cover 3147981922337027122.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 317p.
      • Published in May 1940.
Alternative title: Eden-Ville
Language: French
    • Paris,
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Gallimard ,
      1951 .
      image of person or book cover 3492859983011381960.png
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 354p.

Other Formats

  • Braille.
  • Sound recording.
  • Large print.

Works about this Work

The Passions of the Broken-Hearted Carolyn Strange , 2020 single work essay
— Appears in: Meanjin , Spring vol. 79 no. 3 2020;

'Happy Valley, Patrick White’s brooding, dystopic portrayal of small-town life in the high country of New South Wales, builds to a crisis: a shocking spousal homicide. A bored woman, saddled with a dull, sickly mate, takes up with a virile overseer and she pays a fearful price for her infidelity when her husband explodes in rage. The future Nobel Prize–winning author drew on his experience working as a jackaroo in the region to evoke the setting and characters of his first novel. But the plot twist was true to life, then as now, when intimacy and violence, desire and despair, intertwine.' (Introduction)

The Boredom and Futility of War in Patrick White's Fiction Annalisa Pes , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Le Simplegadi , April no. 15 2016; (p. 65-73)
This article investigates the representation of war in terms of uselessness and waste in the fiction of Patrick White, with a particular emphasis on the short story “After Alep”, written in 1945 when the writer was enrolled in the RAF as an Intelligence Officer. By analysing the story in the light of White’s approach to the war as to “the most horrifying and wasteful period” of his life (Marr 1992: 493), the article attempts to demonstrate how the narrative devices used by White contribute to demythologize the rhetoric of the war and of war heroes in a way that may be instrumental in conveying a message of peace out of the ultimate sense of futility transmitted by any war.
Patrick White, Composer Manqué : The Centrality of Music in White's Artistic Aspiration John Carmody , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Antipodes , June vol. 29 no. 1 2015; (p. 153-161)
'Australian writer Patrick White was burdened with the reputation of a misanthrope. This was, perhaps, self-inflicted but it allowed many to disregard the sensitivity and insights of his writing. It is nevertheless surprising that most critics and readers seem unaware of his deep engagement with music. Certainly, few (if any) literary critics appear to recognize the significance of music in his output. Here, Carmody contends that not only was music profoundly important to White as a human being, but that it fundamentally drove his work. Without a recognition of this crucial importance of music, it is impossible to understand adequately White's aesthetic aspiration.' (Publication abstract)
The Shift from Commonwealth to Postcolonial Literatures: Patrick White’s “The Twitching Colonel” and Manuka Wijesinghe’s Theravada Man Isabel Alonso-Breto , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Patrick White Centenary : The Legacy of a Prodigal Son 2014; (p. 302-318)
Isabel Alonso-Breto whose comparison of The Twyborn Affair 'to that of a Sri Lankan writer juxtaposes the postcolonial rebellion of the retired British colonel and that of the seemingly obediently colonised schoolteacher. The daringly experimental nature of this contribution underlines the celebratory aspect of this collection and indicates the chameleon-like possibilities of the White text, its continuing capacity for growth and its openness to varied possibilities of interpretation.' (Introduction xx)
Patrick White’s Children : Juvenile Portraits in Happy Valley and The Hanging Garden Elizabeth Webby , Margaret Harris , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Patrick White Centenary : The Legacy of a Prodigal Son 2014; (p. 269-279)
'Elizabeth Webby and Margaret Harris, at present collaborating in a major research project on the archive of White papers held at the National Library in Canberra, elucidate a delicate theme that has hardly drawn commentary from White critics before - White’s empathetic and sensitive portrayal of children in his novels. An additional interest derives from their drawing on their privileged access to unpublished material. Interesting links are traced between White’s first novel Happy Valley (1939) and his last (posthumously published) A Hanging Garden (2012).' (From Introduction, xix)
[Review] Happy Valley 1939 single work review
— Appears in: The North Queensland Register , 1 April 1939; (p. 59)

— Review of Happy Valley : A Novel Patrick White , 1939 single work novel
[Review] Happy Valley 1939 single work review
— Appears in: Desiderata , February no. 39 1939; (p. 15)

— Review of Happy Valley : A Novel Patrick White , 1939 single work novel
First Tones of White A. P. Riemer , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Age , 25 August 2012; (p. 24) The Sydney Morning Herald , 25-26 August 2012; (p. 30-31)

— Review of Happy Valley : A Novel Patrick White , 1939 single work novel
Out of the Wilderness Delia Falconer , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 1-2 September 2012; (p. 18-19)

— Review of Happy Valley : A Novel Patrick White , 1939 single work novel
Rediscovering White Country Peter Pierce , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 8 September 2012; (p. 21)

— Review of Happy Valley : A Novel Patrick White , 1939 single work novel
Patrick White: An International Perspective John Colmer , 1991 single work criticism
— Appears in: Breaking Circles 1991; (p. 182-196)
The Place of Happy Valley in the Novels of Patrick White John Beston , 1974 single work criticism
— Appears in: ACLALS Bulletin 1974; (p. 17-27)
Back to the Abyss : Patrick White's Early Novels A. P. Riemer , 1987 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , December vol. 47 no. 4 1987; (p. 347-369)
Undercover Susan Wyndham , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 18-19 August 2007; (p. 30)
The Influence of French Literature on Patrick White's 'The Living and the Dead' J. S. Ryan , 1984 single work criticism
— Appears in: The French-Australian Cultural Connection : Papers from a Symposium Held at the University of New South Wales, 16-17 September 1983 1984; (p. 148-159)
Last amended 22 Apr 2020 09:00:08