Max Afford i(48 works by) (a.k.a. Malcolm Afford)
Born: Established: 8 Apr 1906 Parkside, Unley area, Adelaide - South / South East, Adelaide, South Australia, ; Died: Ceased: 2 Nov 1954 Mosman, Cremorne - Mosman - Northbridge area, Sydney Northeastern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
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Max Afford worked as a reporter and feature writer at the Adelaide News and Mail from 1929-1934. In 1935 he joined Radio 5DN as a producer and continuity manager.

In 1936 his play 'William Light - the Founder' won the South Australian Centenary Drama Competition. The same year saw him move to Sydney, where he worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for five years before becoming a freelance and prolific writer of fiction and radio plays, gaining enormous popularity as a serial writer. 'Hagen's Circus' (1941), for example, ran for 800 episodes. Between 1929 and 1954 he wrote more than sixty radio and stage plays and radio serials. Most of these remain unpublished, but some of his plays are included in the posthumous selection Mischief in the Air (1974). His film scripts include 'Smithy' (1944), about the aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.

Afford's 'Flail of God' was the first drama by an Australian playwright to be broadcast on Australian radio (19 July 1932), and his stage play 'Lady in Danger', although it was not well received there, was the first Australian play produced on Broadway (1945). His success as a radio play writer has been attributed to his mastery of radio drama techniques as well as to his exciting plots and realistic characterisation. As well as the plays he also published six detective novels. Their central character, the detective Jeffery Blackburn, also featured in a number of his radio plays, but with a somewhat different background.

A chain smoker, Afford died of cancer at the age of 48.


  • Two interviews with Thelma Afford, wife of Max, held at NLA. She speaks about his writing and career in Australian theatre.
  • A number of secondary sources (including an earlier version of this AustLit entry) have claimed that Afford's Flail of God was the first 'play' by an Australian to be produced for Australian radio, citing the date of broadcast as 19 July 1932. While it may have been the first 'drama' broadcast, Flail of God was by no means the first locally-written work to be heard by the country's radio audience. The previous year Evan Senior's, On the Air, became the first musical comedy to be specially written for radio. It was broadcast by South Australian station 5CL on 5 August 1931. A few weeks later Fred Whaite's musical, The Tin Soldier, also specially written for the medium, was broadcast by the ABC's Sydney station, 2BL (26 August).

Other mentions of in AustLit: