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Kenneth Cook Kenneth Cook i(A32020 works by) (birth name: Bert Kenneth Cook) (a.k.a. Kenneth Bernard Cook)
Also writes as: Alan Hale ; John Duffy
Born: Established: 5 May 1929 Lakemba, Canterbury area, Sydney Inner West, Sydney, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 1987
Gender: Male
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The third and youngest child of Herbert Warner Cook and his Lily May (née Soole), Kenneth Cook started out his career as a journalist, initially working in country towns and Sydney for some years. While in the New South Wales capital he became involved with the Genesian theatre company, and it was through this association that he met his future first wife, librarian and researcher, Irene Patricia Hickie. In 1952 Cook secured a position with the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), spending his first two years with the national broadcaster at Broken Hill, New South Wales and later Rockhampton, Queensland. He wrote his first novel in the latter town and although initially accepted it was later considered libellous and pulped. Cook was then transferred to Brisbane for six months before returning to Sydney in late 1954. During his time with the ABC Cook was often involved filming and presenting items for its television program Weekend Magazine. Cook resigned from the ABC in 1961 in order to concentrate on his writing. In later years he would again work for the broadcaster, but as a freelance producer making dozens of short films through his company, Patrician Films.

Cook's first novel, Wake in Fright, was published the same year he left the ABC. Considered his best-known novel, it was adapted into a film by Peter Weir some ten years later. During his eighteen-year career as a writer, Cook published fourteen novels, a television play (I'm Damned If I Know), two stage dramas, Habacus, one episode of the children's television adventure series The Rovers (1970), and the musical play Stockade: A Musical Play of the Eureka Stockade (which was also turned into a film).

As a writer Cook explored a wide variety of genres, including the detective story, Chain of Darkness (1962), and an historical novel about bushranging, Wanted Dead (1963). The Wine of God's Anger (1968), saw Cook reacting disapprovingly at Australia's involvement in Vietnam, while in Piper in the Market-Place (1971), he let his Catholic background rise to the surface as he moralised on the issue of abortion. Pig (1980), concerns a confrontation between a hunter and an intelligently malign animal. It has been suggested by several critics that this novel, which resembles in a number of respects the format used by Peter Benchley in Jaws, should have been called 'Tusks.' A novel about the Australian film industry, The Film-Makers, which he co-wrote with his daughter, Kerry, was published in 1983.

Sometime around 1970 Cook collaborated with his wife Patricia on a musical play about the Eureka rebellion of 1854. Stockade was also to become a vehicle for further comment on the Vietnam War, with Cook exploring the issue of the rule of law versus individual rights. His premise was to question the validity of violence as a means of control, and the play therefore contains lots of stirring comment on government oppression and the right of people to rise against injustice. Stockade was commissioned by the University of New South Wales Drama Foundation, and premiered in 1971 at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney. Immediately following the end of the Sydney season most of the cast spent two weekends at the Australiana Village at Wilberforce (New South Wales) making a motion picture version of the stage production. Although poorly received by the critics, the film version of Stockade played a significant role in highlighting the poor state of the Australian film industry - particularly the lack of action by the NSW government to protect and assist local filmmakers. In this respect Cook, and producer, Hans Pomeranz, found themselves at the forefront of a public and industry campaign to change the government's attitude regarding the enforcement of protectionist laws already in place.

Cook died in 1987 of a heart attack. He was survived by his first wife, his children, and second wife, Jacqueline Kent.

Most Referenced Works


  • For further details see Jacqueline Kent's entry, "Cook, Kenneth Bernard (1929-1987)" in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

  • Cook has also written other collections of humorous essays and a pictorial work on animals.

  • As director of his own film company, Cook produced, wrote and acted in numerous films primarily for children's television.
  • Cook stood for Federal parliament twice, unsuccessfully. His first attempt was in 1966 when he contested the the seat of Parramatta on behalf of the Liberal Reform Group on an anti-conscription ticket. His second attempt was in 1969 when he ran for the seat of Bennelong as an Australia Party candidate.

  • Cook is the father of Kerry Cook.

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Fear Is the Rider Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2016 9020885 2016 single work novel thriller horror

'It was quite silent in the scrub. No breeze stirred the leaves and no bird moved, except for the kite hawks wheeling silently, eternally, high in the hot air.

'She smelt her attacker before she saw him.

'A heavy stench hit her with such force that she started with shock. It was a smell she’d never encountered before. Not man, not animal, something like carrion, but alive. It seemed to envelop and suffocate her, then became tangible as two arms wrapped around her body and began tearing at her clothing.

'A young man driving from Sydney to Adelaide for work decides to take a short detour into the desert. He turns his hatchback on to a notoriously dangerous track that bisects uninhabited stone-covered flats. Out there, under the baking sun, people can die within hours.

'He’s not far along the road when a distraught young woman stumbles from the scrub and flags him down. A journalist from Sydney, she has just escaped the clutches of an inexplicable, terrifying creature.

'Now this desert-dwelling creature has her jeep. Her axe. And her scent…

'From the author of the classic novel Wake In Fright comes a chillingly brilliant short novel that’s part Wolf Creek and part Duel. Fear Is the Rider is a nail-biting chase into the outback, towards the devil lurking at its centre.

Wake In Fright was made into an internationally acclaimed film. Fear Is the Rider is a previously unpublished manuscript from the 1980s that was recently rediscovered among Kenneth Cook’s papers.' (Publication summary)

2016 shortlisted Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction Horror Division Novel
y separately published work icon Play Little Victims Rushcutters Bay : Pergamon Press , 1978 Z555580 1978 single work novel

'Mice set about to recreate human society using the literature, methods, and morals of mankind as guides.'

Source: Blurb.

1979 shortlisted Ditmar Awards Australian Fiction
Last amended 31 Oct 2014 10:42:06
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