Skip to main content
Menu

Les Murray
, 2003

by Norman McBeath

bromide fibre print (sheet: 40.5 cm x 30.3 cm, image: 25.4 cm x 25.2 cm)

Leslie Allan ‘Les’ Murray AO (1938-2019) was acknowledged during his lifetime as one of the great poets writing in English. From the appearance of his first book, The Ilex Tree, written with Geoffrey Lehmann in 1965, he published more than twenty volumes of poetry, imbued with his religious faith and linked by an engagement with the values of what he called the ‘real Australia’ – the rural heartland and the bush. Although he won many literary awards, including the prestigious Petrarch Prize in Germany, the TS Eliot Award in Britain, and the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, by 2006 his collected volumes contained ‘about twelve’ poems that he thought were good. He wrote eight books of prose, including The Quality of Sprawl: Thoughts About Australia (1999). A biography, Les Murray: A life in progress, by Peter Alexander, was published in 2000. Having lived with – and written about – paralysing depression for many years, Murray said he had ‘just about grown out of issues,’ including any political ones. His collections of poems include The Biplane Houses (2006), Taller When Prone (2010) and On Bunyah (2015).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Norman McBeath 2011
Accession number: 2011.11