Skip to main content

Donald Horne AO

1921 – 2005

Donald Horne AO (1921-2005), academic and writer, was for nearly forty years the best-known commentator on the Australian condition. Born in Muswellbrook, Horne began his career on Sydney's Daily Telegraph. His book The Lucky Country was published in 1964, in between his stints as editor of the Bulletin (from 1961 to 1962 and from 1967 to1972). Its title, extracted from the sentence 'Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck', was soon misappropriated; the author has complained that he has 'had to sit through the most appalling rubbish as successive generations misapplied this phrase.' While writing his more than 20 books, he edited the Observer and Quadrant and taught at the University of NSW. Chairman of the Australia Council from 1985 to 1990 and Chancellor of the University of Canberra from 1992 to 1995, he was an executive member of the Australian Constitutional Commission amongst his other arts and citizenship involvements. Named a National Living Treasure in 1997, Horne wrote almost to the end of his life; his last, unfinished book was Aspects of a Terminal Illness.

Updated 2018