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Randolph Stow Randolph Stow i(A6363 works by) (a.k.a. Julian Randolph Stow; Mick Stow; Micky Stow; Micael Stow; Stow J. R.)
Also writes as: J. R. S.
Born: Established: 28 Nov 1935 Geraldton, Geraldton area, Dongara - Geraldton - Northampton area, Southwest Western Australia, Western Australia, ; Died: Ceased: 29 May 2010 Essex,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,

Gender: Male
Expatriate assertion
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Randolph Stow is the son of Cedric Ernest Stow, a country lawyer, and Mary Stow nee Sewell. Both sides of the family were fifth generation Australians at the time of Stow's birth. The Stows came from Hadleigh in Suffolk, England. The Reverend Thomas Quinton Stow (1801-1862) arrived in South Australia in 1837 and helped settle Adelaide. A number of distinguished lawyers and judges are descendants. The Sewells from Essex in England arrived in 1836 and were pastoralists in the Geraldton district of Western Australia. This is where Stow grew up. He was educated in Geraldton and then, as a boarder, at the Church of England Grammar School in Guildford, Western Australia. It was here that he discovered Christopher Fry's plays which inspired him to write 'a string of bad plays in bad verse.' (Hetherington, 244). At the age of eighteen he found that he had enough poems for a book and, after a negative response from the Commonwealth Literary Fund, he sent them to the British publisher MacDonald who later published them as Act One (1957). John Hetherington (243) described the young 'Micky' Stow thus: 'Stow, fine-boned and delicately cast, is five feet eight inches tall, but his slender build makes him appear taller. (He weighs only nine stone, and this led a drunk in a country pub to offer him a job as a jockey.) He has a good sense of humour, and his remarks, although never the weighty pronouncements of the intellectual, are often penetrating. Like many shy people he is a man of strong convictions'.

Stow enrolled in Law at the University of Western Australia, echoing the family tradition. He later transferred to Arts and graduated in 1956 with majors in French and English. While studying for his BA, Stow wrote an unpublished novel, 'The Pink Elephant', and two published novels, the latter both written during summer vacations. He said of this time: 'I became a writer for two reasons. One was that in national service I first collided with the facts of life in the atomic age. The other was the death of a friend. ... I felt it was terribly necessary for me to do something creative and do it quickly' (245).

Stow attracted attention in 1957 when his collection of poems, Act One, won the Gold Medal of the Australian Literature Society. This literary success was repeated a year later when his third novel, To the Islands, won several awards, including the Miles Franklin Award. Stow acknowledged a debt to Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists and a few modern poets like Eliot, Pound, Rimbaud, St John Perse, Garcia Lorca, Whitman and D. H. Lawrence. Stow has said that Judith Wright (q.v.) 'had a profound effect' on his way of 'looking at the Australian landscape.' (242). Joseph Conrad and Patrick White]m) (qq.v.) were the most influential novelists.

After these years of literary success Stow decided to pursue a career in anthropology. He studied anthropology and linguistics at the University of Sydney in 1958 and, in 1959, went to Papua New Guinea as an assistant anthropologist and cadet patrol officer, mainly in the Trobriand Islands. Stow contracted malaria and had to return to Australia. He also worked at a number of other jobs in the late 1950s including storeman at an Anglican mission and tutor in English at the University of Adelaide. During the 1960s he returned to literature and held teaching positions at universities in England and Australia and travelled through the United States of America on a Harkness fellowship. While in the US he wrote The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea (1965), a story of a boy's growth into adolescence.

In 1966 Stow renewed his friendship with Peter Maxwell Davies, composer-in-residence at the University of Adelaide, and they later collaborated on several musical theatre works. Stow's poetry and fiction, including a children's book and libretti, continued to attract attention and he won the Grace Leven Prize for A Counterfeit Silence in 1969. By this time Stow had settled permanently in England, first in Suffolk and then, in 1981, at Old Harwich in Essex.

Stow began writing his next novel in 1969, but more than ten years passed before The Visitants, based on his Papua New Guinea experiences, was published. Stow wrote other novels, set in the English areas in which he lived, but he published little after 1990.

Throughout his creative work, Stow most frequently dramatised the metaphysical dilemmas of his characters, and he explored the isolation of a European consciousness in an Australian environment to great effect. The diverse narrative techniques found in his fiction have led some critics to identify him as an early practitioner of postmodernist ideas. Stow's contribution to Australian literature attracted many awards and honours, including the Britannica-Australia Award in 1966 and the Patrick White Literary Award in 1979. Although he continued to live in England, Stow retained his strong connection with Geraldton, Western Australia, through the Randolph Stow Fiction and Poetry Award established in 1987.

Stow died in hospital near his home in the Essex village of Old Harwich.

(Sources: Anthony J. Hassall 'Randolph Stow November 28, 1935-', Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 260: Australian Writers, 1915-1950. Ed. Selina Samuels. ( 2002): 382-391); Anthony J. Hassall Strange Country : A Study of Randolph Stow (1990); John Hetherington, 'Randolph Stow : Young Man In No Hurry', Forty-Two Faces (1962): 242-247)).


Most Referenced Works

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon The Suburbs of Hell : A Novel London : Secker and Warburg , 1984 Z385076 1984 single work novel crime historical fiction

''When a succession of murders shatters the tranquillityof an East Anglian seafaring town, irrational suspicion spreads like a contagious plague. In the murky pubs and on the cobbled street corners gossip is rife. Could Frank de Vere have shot his own wife through the head? Could Greg be the mad-dog killer of his brother?'

Source: Blurb.

1985 shortlisted Ditmar Awards Best Novel
y separately published work icon A Counterfeit Silence : Selected Poems Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1969 Z316341 1969 selected work poetry
1969 winner Grace Leven Poetry Prize
y separately published work icon Midnite : The Story of a Wild Colonial Boy Melbourne : Cheshire , 1967 Z320777 1967 single work children's fiction children's historical fiction satire humour A not-so-bright highwayman keeps getting arrested, but his clever animal friends always help him escape, until one day he finally becomes successful enough to begin living like an honest man. (Libraries Australia record).
1994 winner BILBY (Books I Love Best Yearly) Awards Read Australian section
1968 highly commended CBCA Book of the Year Awards Book of the Year Award

Known archival holdings

Albinski 217
National Library of Australia (ACT)
Last amended 7 Sep 2016 16:10:42
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