John O'Donoghue's family has a long association with the Hunter Valley. The eldest of seven children, he was familiar with the industrial atmosphere that went with BHP. As a student he worked at all the heavy industries, particularly enjoying the ferro-alloy mill. O'Donoghue was a teacher from 1950, at various New South Wales schools and he was a lecturer in English at Newcastle College of Advanced Education from 1972. In 1982 he was appointed college director of community programmes. His other plays include 'Jonah' (1979), an adaptation of the novel by Louis Stone (q.v.) and 'In the Field Where They Buried Peter Pan' (1982).