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Max Harris was born in Adelaide and lived in Mt. Gambier until he won a scholarship to attend St Peter's College where he distinguished himself in sports and academics. Before entering the University of Adelaide in 1939, Harris worked as a copy boy at the Adelaide News and saw his poetry included in the first Jindyworobak Anthology. The Jindyworobak Club published Harris's first book of poetry in 1940 but he was impatient with the limits of the Jindyworobak movement and immersed himself in modernism.
Harris published a number of volumes of poetry and prose and one experimental novel in his life-time, but he is best-known as a columnist and for his part in establishing several important periodicals. In the 1940s he established and co-edited the radical literary and artistic journal Angry Penguins which has become renowned as the site of the Ern Malley hoax, and edited Ern Malley's Journal. Despite the embarrassment and prosecution for indecency that resulted from this hoax, Harris continued his literary career, co-founding Australian Letters and the Australian Book Review in the 1950s and 1960s respectively. He was also involved with Geoffrey Dutton (qv) and Brian Stonier in the establishment of Sun Books, and later had his own small imprint known as Maximus Books.
Harris's contribution to Australian culture has been significant. As long-time owner of Adelaide's Mary Martin bookshop, Harris participated actively in the city's literary circles. This influence was extended in the 1960s when he began a thirty-year career as writer and columnist for several newspapers and periodicals, including the Australian, Adelaide's Sunday Mail and the Bulletin. Many of these pieces have been collected and Harris has collaborated in other publications, including biographies and a collection of articles on Australian English.
2 boxes. Articles, essays, poems, papers concerning the Ern Malley literary hoax, copies of Harris' books, including The vegetative eye, The Coorong and Drama from the sky. Contents list available.Adelaide University Barr Smith Library