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Douglas Stewart Douglas Stewart i(A36564 works by) (a.k.a. Douglas Alexander Stewart)
Also writes as: D. S. ; S
Born: Established: 6 May 1913 Eltham, Taranaki, North Island,
c
New Zealand,
c
Pacific Region,
; Died: Ceased: 14 Feb 1985 Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Male
Heritage: New Zealander
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BiographyHistory

Douglas Stewart was born in 1913 at Eltham, New Zealand, the second of five children of Alexander Armstrong Stewart, an Australian-born teacher and later barrister, and his wife Mary nee Fitzgerald. He enjoyed the natural beauty of the area and developed a lifelong love of fishing. Stewart was educated at Eltham Public School where he decided to become an author and won a scholarship to New Plymouth Boys' High School, a boarding school. He studied law at Victoria University College, Wellington, but, lacking interest in the subject, failed his exams. Stewart took up journalism on local New Zealand papers and moved to Sydney, Australia, in 1933. A job on the Sydney Bulletin did not materialise and in 1934 he returned to New Zealand as a journalist from whence he left for England in 1938.

Stewart failed to secure a job in journalism in England but met Edmund Blunden and John Cowper Powys who had influenced his writing. On his return to Sydney that same year Stewart became assistant to Cecil Mann (q.v.), editor of the 'Red Page' of the Sydney Bulletin. In 1940 he succeeded Mann as literary editor of the Bulletin and its famous 'Red Page'. He held this position until 1960 when the Bulletin changed ownership. Unfit for military service, Stewart became an air-raid warden and wrote two volumes of poetry. At this time he met Norman Lindsay (q.v.) whose energy and enthusiasm for art stimulated him. In 1941 the publication of his Sonnets to the Unknown Soldier began a long association with Angus and Robertson manifested in his editorship of the annual anthologies, Australian Poetry and Coast to Coast. The year also saw his greatest success with the broadcasting of his verse play, The Fire on the Snow, on ABC Radio. In 1942 Stewart won the verse section of an ABC play competition with The Golden Lover.

On 5 December 1946 Stewart married artist Margaret Coen (1909-1993) whom he had met while she was a student of Norman Lindsay. In 1948 their daughter, Meg Stewart (q.v.), was born and his first book of criticism, The Flesh and the Spirit: an Outlook on Literature was published. In 1954 Stewart won a UNESCO travelling scholarship and visited Europe. Shell also commissioned him to collaborate on the film script for The Back of Beyond. In 1955 he and Nancy Keesing (q.v.) published a very popular anthology of Australian bush poetry. From 1955 to 1970 Stewart was a member of the Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Literary Fund.

In 1960 Frank Packer's Consolidated Press took over the Sydney Bulletin and Stewart left to become literary editor for Angus & Robertson. He retired from Angus and Robertson in 1971, but continued to pursue his literary career, consolidating his position as a major figure in Australian literature. In 1962 Stewart published his last single volume of poetry, Rutherford and Other Poems; he continued to edit anthologies of poetry and fiction until the mid 1970s. Stewart also wrote memoirs of Norman Lindsay, Kenneth Slessor (q.v.)and his own youth in Springtime in Taranaki (1983).

Stewart's greatest contribution to Australian literature came from his editorial positions at the Sydney Bulletin and Angus and Robertson. He promoted Australian literature and encouraged new writers, early recognizing several new talents that would become major figures in their own right. Stewart's own writing was also widely admired, attracting a number of awards. His first book of poetry appeared in 1936, displaying his love of New Zealand's landscape. More than ten further volumes appeared during the next forty years, adding the Australian landscape to his poetic images. Stewart was very interested in explorers. The themes of exploration, adventure and idealism are frequently found in his poetry. He also published one collection of short stories, several volumes of autobiography and a book of essays on fishing.

Douglas Stewart was awarded a number of honours, including an OBE and an AO for his services to Australian literature. In January 1985 Stewart finished the revisions of a five-month diary of his beloved garden. He died one month later. In his eulogy for Douglas Stewart, Les Murray (q.v.) said 'He was a poet of the first rank, and a playwright whose achievement in radio drama is unexcelled by any Australian....He was one of Australia's great literary editors. He was a short-story writer and a prose stylist, a biographer and memorialist, and a literary critic whose analysis of the published and unpublished poems of his friend Kenneth Slessor has always seemed to me one of the very finest and most judicious of our critical essays.' Murray went on to argue 'For something like thirty years from 1940 onwards, Douglas Stewart was...perhaps the most influential man of letters in Australia.'

(Source: Adapted from 'Biographical Note', Stewart, Douglas. Family.Papers .(State Library of New South Wales); David McCooey 'Douglas Stewart (6 May 1913-14 February 1985)', Dictionary of Literary Biography 260: Australian Writers 1915-1950 260 ed. Selina Samuels (2002): 355-366; Les Murray 'Eulogy for Douglas Stewart (1913-85) Delivered at All Saints Anglican Church, St Ives 18 February 1985', Southerly (June 1985): 123-128; William H. Wilde et.al.'Stewart, Douglas (1913-1985)' The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. (1994): 720-721).

Most Referenced Works

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Springtime in Taranaki : An Autobiography of Youth Sydney : Hale and Iremonger , 1983 Z380517 1983 single work autobiography
1983 winner FAW Herb Thomas Literary Award
y separately published work icon Norman Lindsay : A Personal Memoir Melbourne : Nelson , 1975 Z287460 1975 single work biography
1975 winner FAW Wilke Award
y separately published work icon Collected Poems 1936-1967 Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1967 Z391543 1967 selected work poetry
1967 winner Grace Leven Poetry Prize
1967 winner Townsville Foundation for Australian Literary Studies Award

Known archival holdings

Albinski 214-215
University of Sydney The University of Sydney Library (NSW)
University of New South Wales Australian Defence Force Academy Australian Defence Force Academy Library (ACT)
Last amended 7 Sep 2016 16:09:12
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