Dal Stivens i(214 works by) (a.k.a. Dallas George Stivens)
Also writes as: Jack Tarrant ; John Sidney ; Sam Johnson ; L'Arva Street
Born: Established: 31 Dec 1911 Blayney, Blayney area, Blayney - Cowra - Grenfell area, Central West NSW, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 16 Jun 1997 Lindfield, Chatswood - Gordon - Castlecrag area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
Arrived in Australia: 1958 Departed from Australia: 1949
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BiographyHistory

Dallas George Stivens was the son of Francis Harold Stivens, an accountant and later a bank manager, and Jane Stivens nee Abbott. He grew up in the central west of New South Wales. The Depression prevented his parents affording a university education, therefore Stivens left school for employment in a bank in 1928. From 1934 on, some of his early writings appeared in Australian newpapers and journals. After the publication of his first book, The Tramp and Other Stories, by Macmillan (London) in 1936, Stivens became a freelance journalist. His social realist stories were largely triggered by his childhood experience of the bush and his father's stories of the shearing sheds and itinerant workers. An experimental novel, Well Anyway, about life in country towns during the Depression, was completed in 1939 but was not published until 2012. From 1939 to 1942 Stivens worked for the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Stivens joined the Australian army in 1942 and served in the Army Education Service, editing and writing pamphlets, until his discharge in 1944. Later that year he joined the Department of Information, writing about sport and literature and producing an Australiana column. While with the Department Stivens was seconded as press officer to the federal Labor minister, Arthur Calwell, writing the text of the book How Many Australians Tomorrow? In 1949 Stivens took up the position of press officer at Australia House in London, but resigned in 1950 to pursue a career as a fulltime writer. A Commonwealth Literary Fund grant in 1951 enabled Stivens to work on a collection of short stories, published later as The Gambling Ghost and Other Tales. Stivens remained in England until 1958 and published many short stories in magazines such as the Times Literary Supplement and the Observer. While in London Stivens began writing special interest articles on natural history and travel for American and European magazines.

His connection with the British Society of Authors led Stivens to lobby for a similar organisation in Australia. In 1963 he became the foundation president of the Australian Society of Authors, writing its first book on publishing contracts and campaigning for the establishment of Public Lending Rights. This was not his only political campaign as he went on to oppose conscription and the Vietnam War as well as being active on conservation issues.

Stivens's fiction is widely admired for its humour and descriptions of the bush, especially his tall tales and cricketing stories. He also employed the genre of the adult animal fable to explore issues relating to human inadequacies and failure. In the 1970s Stivens also built a reputation as a painter.

(Principal source: Harry Heseltine, 'Dal Stivens 1911-1997' Australian Writers, 1915-1950)

Personal Awards

1981 winner Patrick White Award Contribution to Australian Literature

Awards for Works

A Horse of Air 1970 single work novel Harry Craddock - millionaire, ornithologist, idealist and buffoon - wrote this book, an intriguing account of his expedition to central Australia in search of the rare night parrot. (Publisher's blurb, 1986 edition).
1970 winner Miles Franklin Literary Award
Jimmy Brockett : Portrait of a Notable Australian 1951 single work novel Brockett was a great gusty figure, promoter, entrepreneur, a man whose Midas fingers grasped the money bags of sport, entertainment, finance, and moulded shapes in politics and journalism to his own purpose in a ruthless journey to power and fame. He typifies the modern buccaneers who plundered Sydney, N.S.W., in the early 1900's, and yet who, strangely enough, helped in the building of their country's greatness. (Publisher's blurb).
1948 joint third The Sydney Morning Herald Novel Competition The novel shared third prize under its manuscript title The Entrepreneur. Stivens received 300 pounds, as did the other winners, H. C. Wells and F. B. Vickers (qq.v.).
Last amended 13 Apr 2013 11:29:48
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