Patrick White

Happy Valley
  • Happy Valley

  • Happy Valley is Patrick White’s first novel, published in London in 1939 when White was twenty-seven. It was praised by, among others, Graham Greene and Elizabeth Bowen, and won the Australian Literature Gold Medal in 1941, but, fearing that he had libelled one of the families portrayed in the novel, White did not allow the novel to be republished in English in his lifetime.

    Happy Valley is a place of dreams and secrets, of snow and ice and wind. In this remote little town, perched in its landscape of desolate beauty, everybody has a story to tell about loss and longing and loneliness, about their passion to escape. I must get away, thinks Dr Oliver Halliday, thinks Alys Browne, thinks Sidney Furlow. But Happy Valley is not a place that can be easily left, and White’s vivid characters, with their distinctive voices, move bit by bit towards sorrow and acceptance.

Patrick White was born in England in 1912. His Australian parents took him home when he was six months old but educated him in England, at Cheltenham College and King's College, Cambridge. He settled in London, where his first novel, Happy Valley, was published to some acclaim in 1939. After serving in the RAF during the Second World War he returned to Australia with his partner, Manoly Lascaris. The novels, short stories and plays that followed The Tree of Man in 1956 made White a considerable figure in world literature. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973. The Hanging Garden was begun and put aside in 1981 when White was lured away to write once again for the theatre. The unfinished novel was found among his papers after his death in September 1990 and published in 2012.