Roger McDonald i(182 works by) (a.k.a. Hugh Roger McDonald)
Born: Established: 1941 Young, Cootamundra - Young - Harden area, Southeastern NSW, New South Wales, ;
Gender: Male
AustLit is a subscription service. The content and services available here are limited because you have not been recognised as a subscriber. Find out how to gain full access to AustLit


Roger McDonald was born at Young, New South Wales, and attended Temora and Bourke primary schools before completing his education at The Scots College, Bellevue Hill, Sydney and the University of Sydney, where he attained a Bachelor of Arts Degree and Diploma of Education in 1962. In the 1960s he worked as a high-school teacher with the New South Wales Education Department and later joined the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), where he trained as a producer and director of schools' radio and television. He went on to direct television, including studio, outside broadcast and film programmes with ABC Education in Hobart and Brisbane. McDonald became poetry editor for the University of Queensland Press in 1969, a position he held until 1976. In this position he had a significant influence on the direction of the 'New Australian Poetry' of the 1970s.

In 1976 McDonald moved to Canberra and took up writing full-time, but continued as part-time poetry editor until the early 1980s. Supported by a fellowship from the Literature Board, he wrote his highly acclaimed novel 1915 (1979) which won several awards. In 1982 the novel was adapted into a seven-part television series. He has since written several novels, television scripts, screenplays, a fictionalised biography of Dame Nellie Melba and a variety of other prose works.

McDonald first drew attention with his poetry and editing for University of Queensland Press, but he is better known as a writer of fiction. His concern for the Australian character and its expression through Australian voices was first explored in his poetry. The metaphysical explorations of his poetry were adapted for his fiction, most notably the searches of each main character in 1915 for an explanation of their existence. The lyrical and poetic passages in 1915 drew some criticism, influencing the simpler prose of McDonald's later work. With Mr Darwin's Shooter, McDonald has successfully moved out of Australian territory in an attempt to reach an international audience.

During the course of his career, McDonald has received a number of grants and fellowships from the Literature Board of the Australia Council. Other literary activities include Australian representative at the Hari Sastra Literature Congress in Sabah, Malaysia, 1973, Writer-in-residence at Department of Language and Literature, Faculty of Military Studies, Royal Military College, Duntroon 1981, Geelong College, 1985 and a judge for the Vogel Awards, 1987 and 1992.

Awards for Works

When Colts Ran 2010 single work novel

'In this sweeping epic of friendship, toil, hope and failed promise, multi-award-winning author Roger McDonald follows the story of Kingsley Colts as he chases the ghost of himself through the decades, and in and out of the lives and affections of the citizens of "The Isabel", a slice of Australia scattered with prospectors, artists, no-hopers and visionaries. Against this spacious backdrop of sheep stations, timeless landscapes and the Five Alls pub, men play out their fates, conduct their rivalries and hope for the best.

'Major Dunc Buckler, "misplaced genius and authentic ratbag", scours the country for machinery in a World War that will never find him. Wayne Hovell, slave to "moral duty", carries the physical and emotional scars of Colts's early rebellion, but also finds himself the keeper of his redemption. Normie Powell, son of a rugby-playing minister, finds his own mysticism as a naturalist, while warm-hearted stock dealer Alan Hooke longs for understanding in a house full of women. They are men shaped by the obligations and expectations of a previous generation, all striving to define themselves in their own language, on their own terms.' (From the publisher's website.)

2012 longlisted International Awards International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
2011 shortlisted Indie Awards Fiction
2011 shortlisted Miles Franklin Literary Award
2011 shortlisted Prime Minister's Literary Awards Fiction
2011 shortlisted Victorian Premier's Literary Awards The Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction
Mr Darwin's Shooter 1998 single work novel historical fiction
2000 winner Festival Awards for Literature (SA) National Fiction Award
2000 winner Festival Awards for Literature (SA) Premier's Literary Award
1999 winner Victorian Premier's Literary Awards The Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction
1999 winner New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards Christina Stead Prize for Fiction
1998 shortlisted The Age Book of the Year Award Fiction Prize
Other mentions of in AustLit: