H. A. Willis

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H.A. Willis
H. A. Willis, 2013.jpg
H.A. Willis, photographed in Moscow in 2013.
Born Howard Alan Willis
(1948-11-00)November 1948
Colac, Victoria, Australia
Nationality Australian
Notable work(s) Manhunt (1979), a.k.a. Bad Blood (1981)

H.A. Willis (Howard Alan Willis) is an Australian essayist, critic and editor. Born in November 1948 at Colac, Victoria, he grew up in that state (Apollo Bay, Kyneton and Ballarat) and subsequently lived in Darwin, Auckland (1970–80) and rural Tasmania before settling with his wife and their two young sons in Perth in late 1981.[1]

As a student at LaTrobe University he was one of the group who, in October 1967, wrote and produced the first issue of Cinema Papers, edited by Philippe Mora.[2] In 1976 he wrote Cinema Paper’s first in-depth account of the New Zealand film industry.[3] As a student at the University of Auckland, he was a founding member of Alternative Cinema, the Auckland Film-makers’ Cooperative, established in 1972. He contributed articles to and edited several early issues of that group’s journal, Alternative Cinema.

While in New Zealand he produced (for the NZBC) a short television documentary and a book, Manhunt, about the twelve-day manhunt for the mass-killer, Stanley Graham.[4][5] The feature film Bad Blood (1982 film), based on his book,[6] starred Jack Thompson (actor) and Carol Burns. In 2012 Willis returned to Hokitika, where Graham is buried. His account of his trip to Westland and the Graham story was published in the Travel section of The West Australian newspaper.[7] His visit to New Zealand also generated a homage to the earthquake damaged city of Christchurch and its WWII resident, Karl Popper.[8]

Since settling in Western Australia he has worked as an archival researcher, book editor and reviewer. Between 1989 and 2006 he wrote about 250 reviews for The West Australian, The Age and The Canberra Times.[9] He has also written a number of longer articles on subjects that include the closure of the old Metters stove factory in Perth,[10] chronic pain,[11] colonial and Aboriginal history,[12] cultural stereotyping[13] and environmental issues.[14][15] In 2010 he joined the debate over the history of smallpox in Australia, arguing that the 1789 outbreak near Sydney originated from a Macassan introduction through Northern Australia.[16] His essay on pain was selected as the Western Australian finalist for the MBF Health and Well Being awards for 1994.[17] Robert Manne described Willis as “a conservative scholar ... known for his scrupulousness”.[18] In 1994 Willis interviewed Tim Winton for Eureka Street;[19] Winton later dedicated his Breath (novel) (2008) to Willis.

As a non-fiction editor, Willis prepared for publication (contributing the title) The Last of the Last (2009), the autobiography of Claude Choules, the last combat veteran of WW1. At the time of publication Choules was 108, making him the world’s oldest first time author.[20] Other titles edited by Willis include From Kastellorizo (2006), Michael (Stratos) Jack Kailis’s memoir of his extended family,[21] and Nurses with Altitude (2008), a collection of stories by Western Australian nurses of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. [22]

Between 1982 and 1991 Willis published eleven short stories in various literary journals, including Overland (magazine),[23] Australian Short Stories,[24] Brave New Word,[25] [26] Going Down Swinging,[27] The Weekend Australian[28][29] and Island.[30][31]

More recently, he indexed and was one of the editorial annotators of The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861,[32] published in 2010. In 2011 he wrote the introductory essay to a reprinted edition of Thermo-Electrical Cooking Made Easy,[33][34] first published in Kalgoorlie in 1907[35] and claimed to be the world’s first cookbook for an electric stove.


  1. ^ http://www.austlit.edu.au/run?ex=ShowAgent&agentId=A$Yq
  2. ^ Murray, Scott (March–April 1984), "A Personal History of Cinema Papers", Cinema Papers (Melbourne), 44-45: 41, ISSN 0311-3639 
  3. ^ Willis, Howard (March–April 1976), "Renovations in Earthquake Hotel", Cinema Papers (Melbourne): 325–28, ISSN 0311-3639 
  4. ^ Willis, H. A. (Howard Alan) (1979), Manhunt : the story of Stanley Graham, Whitcoulls, ISBN 978-0-7233-0629-X 
  5. ^ Willis, H. A. (Howard Alan) (1981), Bad blood : the story of Stanley Graham, Fontana/Collins, ISBN 978-0-00-634925-9 
  6. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0932345/
  7. ^ http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/lifestyle/a/-/lifestyle/14270949/south-islands-buried-past/ South Islands buried past in online version: variant editing in newsprint version The Scene of the crime page 2 of travel section of paper of same date, 19 July 2012
  8. ^ http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/travel/a/-/more/14220345/christchurch-recovery/ Christchurch rising from the ruins in online version: variant editing in newsprint version Picking up the pieces pp 8-10 of travel section of paper of 14 July 2012
  9. ^ See, for example, reviews of Killing Mister Watson, by Peter Matthiessen, The Age, 15 September 1990; Invisible Invaders, by Judy Campbell, The West Australian, 20 July 2002; and The Historian’s Conscience, edited by Stuart Macintyre, The Canberra Times, 13 November 2004.
  10. ^ Willis, H. A. (29 Oct 1982), "Shutdown", The National Times 
  11. ^ [1]Willis, H. A (March 1994), "On the Rack", Eureka Street (Melbourne) 4 (2): 28–33, ISSN 1036-1758 
  12. ^ [2]Willis, H. A (1997-Jan/Feb), "The Colour of Blood", Eureka Street (Melbourne) 7 (1): 20–25, ISSN 1036-1758 
  13. ^ http://eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=38838
  14. ^ Willis, H. A (as Howard Willis) (27 March 1982), "Saving our Caves", The West Australian 
  15. ^ http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=23033
  16. ^ Willis, H. A (September 2010), "Poxy history [Smallpox and Aboriginal history.]", Quadrant (Sydney) 54 (9): 70–73, ISSN 0033-5002 
  17. ^ Eureka Street (Melbourne) 4 (7), November 1994: 3, ISSN 1036-1758 
  18. ^ [3]Manne, Robert (October 2003), "Windshuttle’s Whitewash", Eureka Street (Melbourne) 13 (8): 23–27, ISSN 1036-1758 
  19. ^ [4]Willis, H. A (September 1994), "According to Winton", Eureka Street (Melbourne) 4 (7): 20–25, ISSN 1036-1758 
  20. ^ http://www.hesperianpress.com/index.php/booklist/2011-06-16-08-07-49/l-titles/456-last-of-the-last-the-claude-choules
  21. ^ http://www.hesperianpress.com/index.php/booklist/2011-06-16-00-50-21/f-titles/128-from-kastellorizo
  22. ^ http://www.hesperianpress.com/index.php/booklist/2011-06-16-12-23-53/n-titles/249-nurses-with-altitude
  23. ^ Willis, H. A (Dec 1987), "Daydream", Overland (Melbourne) 109: 40–42, ISSN 0030-7416 
  24. ^ Willis, H. A (1989), "Charity", Australian Short Stories (Apollo Bay) 25: 22–25, ISSN 0810-4468 
  25. ^ Willis, H. A (May 1988), "Otherwise", Brave New Word (Melbourne) 9: 37–40, ISSN 0725-5543 
  26. ^ Willis, H. A (August 1989), "Party Trick", Brave New Word (Melbourne) 11: 57–63, ISSN 0725-5543 
  27. ^ Willis, H. A (1988), "Losers Weepers", Going Down Swinging(Melbourne) 8: 81–88, ISSN 0157-3950 
  28. ^ Willis, H. A (as W.A. Hallis) (28-29 Sept 1985), "Daylight Robbery", The Weekend Australian, Literary Magazine 
  29. ^ Willis, H. A (18–19 April 1987), "Wasted", The Weekend Australian, Literary Magazine 
  30. ^ Willis, H. A (1982), "Waiting for the Axe to Fall", Island (Sandy Bay) 11: 35–39, ISSN 0156-8124 
  31. ^ Willis, H. A (1991), "How I ended up with Narelle", Island (Sandy Bay) 48: 59–61, ISSN 1035-3127 
  32. ^ http://www.hesperianpress.com/index.php/booklist/titles-a-d/a-titles/37-australind-journals-of-marshall-waller-clifton
  33. ^ Curle Smith, H. Nora; Willis, H. A. (Howard Alan), 1948- (1907), Thermo-electrical cooking made easy : proved recipes for guidance in the use of the Rational electric cooking stove (D. Curle Smith's patent), Hesperian Press, ISBN 978-0-85905-492-8 
  34. ^ http://www.hesperianpress.com/index.php/booklist/2011-06-17-00-41-54/t-titles/458-thermo-electrical-cooking-made-easy1
  35. ^ Curle Smith, H. Nora (1907), Thermo-electrical cooking made easy : proved recipes for guidance in the use of the Rational electric cooking stove (D. Curle Smith's patent), Bird & Annear, retrieved 1 November 2012