Skip to main content

Alan Marshall

by Louis Kahan

fibre-tipped pen, and pen and ink on paper laid down on cardboard (sheet: 57.0 cm x 39.2 cm)

Alan Marshall AM OBE (1902-84), writer, began life in Victoria’s Western District. His infantile paralysis (polio) left him permanently disabled. As a teenager in Melbourne he wrote with great dedication, working as a shoe factory’s accountant in the 1930s. Marshall won three Australian Literary Society Short Story Awards, was published in 1934, wrote for Worker’s Voice, Communist Review, news magazines and Meanjin. He edited anti-fascist review Point and was president of the Victorian Writers’ League. He never joined the Communist Party, but attracted the interest of ASIO. His best-known, autobiographical work, I Can Jump Puddles (1955), details the challenges and triumphs of his childhood. The book, translated into many languages, sold more than 3 million copies and was made into an award-winning film in Czechoslovakia in 1970 and an Australian television series. Marshall is a recipient of the Soviet Order of Friendship and he has worked on projects highlighting the challenges confronting people with disabilities. Several literary awards commemorate him.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Mrs Lily Kahan 2017
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2017.57