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Eleanor Dark Eleanor Dark i(A10642 works by) (a.k.a. Eleanor O'Reilly Dark)
Also writes as: Patricia O'Rane
Born: Established: 26 Aug 1901 Burwood, Ashfield - Burwood area, Sydney Inner West, Sydney, New South Wales, ; Died: Ceased: 11 Sep 1985 Katoomba, Blue Mountains, Sydney, New South Wales,
Gender: Female
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Eleanor Dark was born Eleanor O'Reilly at Burwood in Sydney in 1901, the only daughter of writer Dowell O'Reilly (q.v.). She was educated at a number of Sydney schools, including Redlands, but did not attend university because she failed to meet the mathematics requirement for admission. Instead, she learned typing and shorthand, starting work at a solicitor's office in 1920. In 1922 she married Dr Eric Payten Dark, a general practitioner. They moved to Katoomba in 1923 and, except for a few periods, remained there for the rest of their lives. In 1929 their only child, Brian Michael, was born.

Devoted to maintaining a comfortable home for her family, Eleanor Dark pursued her writing when time permitted. She began contributing verse and short stories to magazines in 1921 and had completed nine novels by the 1950s. The most well-known of these is The Timeless Land (1941), the first instalment of a trilogy that dramatizes the first years of European settlement in Australia. In 1941 The Timeless Land was selected as the Book of the Month by the Book of the Month Club in the U.S.A. and was adapted for television in 1980 by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Dark was influenced by the major European writers of the 1920s and 1930s, adopting a psychological focus and a concern for the perception of time. Dark's psychological focus was used to great success in The Little Company (1945) where the personal and political attitudes of war-time Australians are explored. Dark's novels also explore social issues such as women's rights and the plight of Aborigines.

Dark was a founding member of the Australian Book Society in 1945.

Eleanor Dark has received a number of awards for her contributions to Australian literature and in 1977 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). She died in 1985.

Most Referenced Works


  • See also: May, Bernice, 'Patricia O'Rane', The Australian Woman's Mirror, vol. 4, no. 44, 25/9/1928. May interviewed O'Rane in her Blue Mountains home. Dark was 27 at the time and she explains that she used the pseudonym O'Rane, among others, because she wanted to succeed on her own merits, not because she was the daughter of an established poet. The article also describes Dark's garden and provides an insight into her relationship with her father.

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Return to Coolami London : Collins , 1936 Z824242 1936 single work novel (taught in 2 units)
1936 winner ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal
y separately published work icon Prelude to Christopher Sydney : P. R. Stephensen , 1934 Z824226 1934 single work novel (taught in 22 units)

'Should a woman bear a child knowing that there are traces of insanity in her family? Linda Hainlin, niece of a famous biologist, was aware of the danger when she married Dr. Nigel Hendon, a practical idealist, whose creed was normality and the rational ordering of the world. This book tells how, years later, while temporarily deprived of her husband's sane companionship, Linda feels the oncoming of those homicidal impulses which presage madness. On this tragic theme, 'Prelude to Christopher' is written with strong literary art as a narrative of four days of crisis. The story goes back in memory to the happiness of Linda's love for Nigel, and forward in her frightened imagination to a future from which the strongest must flinch. Christopher, the unborn child, dominates terrific events in which he has no living part to play. The prelude to his birth is told with emotional power.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

1934 winner ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal
Last amended 3 Sep 2018 11:39:32
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