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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Xavier Herbert (study)

c. 1977
Ray Crooke AM

oil on canvas on board (frame: 75.5 cm x 60.5 cm, support: 60.0 cm x 44.5 cm)

Xavier Herbert (1901 –1984), author, was born Alfred Jackson to a single mother in Geraldton, WA. Leaving school early, he worked in miscellaneous jobs in WA and Victoria before moving to Sydney in 1926. There he published his first stories under the name of Herbert Astor. From 1927 to 1930 he lived in Darwin. He drew on his experiences there while writing his first book, Capricornia, in London in 1930-1932. Herbert stated that the working title of the novel, which at first, dealt mainly with inter-racial sexual relations, was Black Velvet. Broadened in scope, and titled Capricornia, it was published in 1938 and won the Commonwealth Prize for the ‘best Australian novel published or accepted for publication in the year 1937. He settled in Cairns in 1946. Having written little in the 1940s and 1950s, and his autobiography Disturbing Element in 1963, he made his name with Poor Fellow My Country (1975), which won the Miles Franklin Award and still holds the record for the longest Australian novel.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012
© Ray Crooke/Copyright Agency, 2021

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Ray Crooke AM (age 55 in 1977)

Xavier Herbert (age 76 in 1977)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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