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An insight into the working life of Patrick White


5 June 2012

Patrick White's lost novel 'The Hanging Garden' was finally published thanks to professors Margaret Harris and Elizabeth Webby.
Patrick White's lost novel 'The Hanging Garden' was finally published thanks to professors Margaret Harris and Elizabeth Webby.

On Wednesday night, professors Margaret Harris and Elizabeth Webby, together with research assistant Jennifer Moore, will deliver a public talk about their Australian Research Council funded project on the Patrick White manuscripts acquired by the National Library of Australia in 2006.

Since then, the manuscripts, many handwritten, some typed, have delivered the entirely new novel The Hanging Garden, and White's 10 working notebooks have been transcribed and digested by Webby, Harris and Moore, revealing extraordinary insights on the working methods of Australia's only Nobel Prize winner for literature.

"The notebooks show how various projects grew up together but were written at different times," Professor Harris said. "Some of his works were planned much earlier than we imagined.

"And we can see he was also very meticulous in his research - he was very careful to get his facts right. For example for Voss and A Fringe of Leaves he was reading a lot of accounts of early explorers."

Professor Harris said the talk on Wednesday in the Sydney Law School will be divided into three sections. Professor Webby will discuss the unpublished dramatic scripts White wrote for film, radio, stage and television, research assistant Jennifer Moore will detail the processes of transcription of White's notebooks and identification of references in them and Professor Harris will talk about the novel The Hanging Garden.

As part of the project Professor Harris, who is Director of Research Development at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Professor Webby, Emeritus Professor of Australian Literature, are developing explanatory annotation to White's notebooks as they relate to his published works as well as identifying allusions and sources.

When the project is complete, these annotations will be displayed in the NLA alongside the scanned images of the notebooks (already available on the NLA website).


Event details

What: The Hanging Garden and beyond: Exploring Patrick White's manuscripts 

When: 6 to 7.30pm, Wednesday 6 June

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus

Cost: Free, but please register as seats are limited

Bookings: Contact library.rsvp@sydney.edu.au or 9114 0866


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