Also writes as: Sundowner
Born: Established: 11 Sep 1925 Toowoomba ; Died: 4 May 2011 Mareeba
Glenville Pike's grandparents, George and Emily Francis, emigrated to New Zealand from England in 1872. His mother, the poet Effie Pike, married cabinet maker and musician Charlie Pike and Glenville Pike was born in Toowoomba on 11 September 1925. His early years were spent in Toowoomba and Sydney before his parents and his mother's life-long companion, her cousin Dorothy, left Sydney for North Queensland in 1932, at the height of the Depression.
Charlie Pike returned to New Zealand shortly afterwards and the family spent many years moving around North Queensland and the Northern Territory. Pike describes the hardships of his life and the people he met in his autobiographical work, My Yesterdays. He was educated largely by Dorothy, whom Pike always referred to as Auntie. He started writing at age 11 and was only 12 years old when he published his first story, an historical serial entitled Forbidden Territory, in the children's section of The North Queensland Register. The serial was written with the help of his mother and was about pioneers in the 1840s.
The children's section was edited by Alex Vennard under one of his pseudonyms, Maurice Deane. Vennard also edited, as Bill Bowyang, the column 'On the Track' and Pike took over the column in July 1947, following Vennard's death, changing its name to 'Around the Campfire', and writing as Sundowner. Pike continues to edit this column to the present day (2008), and has recorded the memories of hundreds of northern Australian residents, in some cases reaching as far back as the 1870s.
In 1949 Pike was engaged by the Royal Geographical Society to search for the grave of John Gilbert, the naturalist in the Leichhardt expedition. This provided material for articles that were published in several overseas newspapers. He was commissioned to write sections for the 1951 Australian Encylopaedia and published the first of his many books on local history in 1952. This was Pioneer Pageants, a history of the Mareeba Shire.
Shortly afterwards Pike, with his mother and Dorothy, moved to the Northern Territory where he met Territory personality, Jessie Litchfield, and wrote for the Northern Territory News. In 1954 Pike launched his own magazine, The North Australian Monthly, with support and some financial input from Mrs Litchfield. The magazine was printed in Townsville and contributors ranged from well-known writers such as Clem Lack and Henry G. Lamond to local identities and eccentrics, many of whom are described in My Yesterdays. The magazine continued publication until 1965.
Pike eventually settled in North Queensland. He married his first wife, Carolyne, in 1980, but they separated four years later. His second wife, Hellen, died in 2005. Pike has received a number of awards for his writing, including an Order of Australia Medal in 2000 for services to local history in Far North Queensland.