Skip to main content

Ruth Park
, 2000

by Kilmeny Niland

oil on canvas

Ruth Park AM (1917-2010) was born in New Zealand and lived there until 1942. As a convent schoolgirl she was encouraged by her headmistress to become penpals with the Australian D'Arcy Niland, later the author of The Shiralee. Having corresponded with Niland for some time, she came to Australia to marry him and continue her career as a journalist. The couple travelled through outback Australia working in a variety of manual jobs which became material for a number of novels, but they eventually settled in the Sydney slum area of Surry Hills, described in Park's best-known works, The Harp in the South and Poor Man's Orange. She has written more than fifty books for adults and children, including the Muddle Headed Wombat series, and has won a number of important Australian literary awards.

This portrait of Ruth Park is by her daughter, Kilmeny Niland, an illustrator, writer and painter, who provided the drawings for a number of Park's books.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2000
Accession number: 2000.5