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David Malouf
, 1980

by Jeffrey Smart

pencil on paper

David Malouf AO (b.1934), author, was educated at Brisbane Grammar and the University of Queensland before leaving Australia at the age of 24. He remained abroad for a decade, teaching in England and travelling throughout Europe. After returning to Australia in 1968 he taught English at the University of Sydney and began to publish poetry – his first collection was the 1970 volume Bicycle and Other Poems. His first novel, the acclaimed Johnno, appeared in 1975. Since turning to writing full-time in 1977 Malouf has published five further books of poetry, three libretti – including an adaptation of Patrick White’s Voss (1978) for the Australian Opera – and an autobiography, 12 Edmondstone Street (1985). He is best known, however, for his novels. An Imaginary Life won the 1979 NSW Premier’s Literary Award; Fly Away Peter won the Age Book of the Year Award in 1982; The Great World won the Miles Franklin Award in 1990; Remembering Babylon was shortlisted for 1994’s Booker Prize; and The Conversations at Curlow Creek was nominated for the 1997 Miles Franklin Award. In 1998 he gave the six ABC Boyer Lectures, on the theme of ‘the making of Australian consciousness’. His non- fiction essays include On Experience (2008) and The happy life (2011). He became a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2008. Having divided his time between residences in Australia and Tuscany for some years, he now mostly lives in Sydney. His latest book, A First Place (2014) is a collection of essays about Australia.

Jeffrey Smart (1921–2013) painted two portraits of Malouf, a long-time friend and fellow resident of Italy, in strange labourer’s guise in 1980. One of these paintings is in the collection of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, and the second is in private hands. This drawing appears to be a preparatory sketch for those portraits.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Dr Gene Sherman AM and Brian Sherman AM 2012
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gift Program
Accession number: 2012.218