Tom Hungerford

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Tom Hungerford
Born (1915-05-05)5 May 1915
Perth, Western Australia
Died 19 June 2011(2011-06-19) (aged 96)
Perth, Western Australia
Pen name T.A.G. Hungerford
Notable work(s) Stories from Suburban Road
Notable award(s) Member of the Order of Australia
1988
Patrick White Award
2002

Thomas Arthur Guy Hungerford, AM (5 May 1915 – 19 June 2011), popularly known as T. A. G. Hungerford, was an Australian writer, noted for his World War II novel The Ridge and the River, and his short stories that chronicle growing up in South Perth, Western Australia during the Great Depression.

Early life[edit]

Hungerford was born in Perth, Western Australia on 5 May 1915. He grew up in South Perth, known then as the Queen Suburb,[citation needed] when the area was semi-rural, with market gardens.

World War Two[edit]

Hungerford served with the Australian Army in Darwin, New Guinea, Bougainville, Morotai and with the Occupation Forces in Japan. He was a sergeant in 2/8 Australian Commando Squadron.

In 2005 the ABC's 7.30 Report reported his "unflinching depictions of jungle fighting are acknowledged as some of the best writing to come out of the war". Hungerford told the program he wasn't a hero: "I was one of a group of men all doing the same bloody thing. Sticking the head up, hoping to Christ it wouldn't be shot off." He left the army in 1947.

Journalism[edit]

After the war, Hungerford was a press secretary for Billy Hughes for three weeks. Upon leaving Hungerford wrote to Hughes: "I will never work for you again. I'd rather go to bed with a sabre-toothed tiger".[1] He then joined the Australia News and Information Bureau, and afterwards was a freelancer. He later worked as a press secretary to Western Australian Premiers John Tonkin and Sir Charles Court.

Writing[edit]

Hungerford began writing as a teenager and had his first published short story in 1942 in the Sydney Bulletin. His first volume of short fiction, Stories from Suburban Road, depict life during the Great Depression in the Perth riverside suburb of South Perth.

Novels[edit]

  • The Ridge and the River (1950)
  • Riverslake (1953)
  • Sowers in the Wind (1954)
  • Shake the Golden Bough (1963)

Sowers in the Wind, was held back by publisher Angus & Robertson because it dealt with the economic and sexual exploitation of the Japanese after the War by Australian occupation forces. The novel won the 1949 Sydney Morning Herald prize for literature but was not published until 1954.

Monash University's Robin Gerster told The Age in 2002: "Hungerford... wrote very perceptively and affectionately about the Japanese, which is not a bad effort for someone who fought them."

Short stories[edit]

  • Wong Chu and the Queen's Letterbox (1976)
  • The Only One Who Forgot (1951)

Drama[edit]

  • Stories from Suburban Road
  • The Day It All Ended

Children’s books[edit]

  • Swagbelly Birdsnatcher and the Prince of Siam

Autobiography[edit]

  • Stories From Suburban Road (1983)
  • A Knockabout with a Slouch Hat
  • Red Rover All Over

Non-fiction[edit]

  • Fremantle, Landscapes and People (with photographer Roger Garwood) (1976)

Book reviews[edit]

  • Selby, David. Hell and High Fever - reviewed in Quadrant 1/1 (Sum 1956/57): 93, 95.

Prizes and other honours[edit]

Hungerford won the Crouch Gold Medal for Literature (1951), the Patricia Hackett Short Story prize (1962), the WA Weekly Literature Prize for Fiction (1964), and the Patrick White Award (2002).

He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987. A portrait of him, c.1963, by Kate O'Connor is in the National Library of Australia. In 2004, he was pronounced a Living Treasure of Western Australia by the Western Australian Government [2] Michael Crouch,s biography of Hungerford is called Literary Larrikin[3]

The T. A. G. Hungerford Award is named for him and is awarded every two years to an unpublished author in Western Australia.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Aneurin Hughes, Billy Hughes: Prime Minister and Controversial Founding Father of the Australian Labor Party, Wiley, 2005.
  2. ^ Engwerda-Smith, Anna.(2005) Western Australian State living treasures. Perth, W.A. : Dept. of Culture and the Arts, 2005 edition: - .photography by Robert Garvey. Tom (T.A.G.) Hungerford AM Commemorative book featuring the 2004 recipients of the Western Australian State Living Treasures Award. ISBN 0-9751096-7-7
  3. ^ Crouch, Michael (2004) The literary larrikin : a critical biography of T.A.G. Hungerford Crawley W.A. : University of Western Australia Press ISBN 1-920694-39-0
  4. ^ an example being - Winner of T.A.G. Hungerford Award, 1996, for his novel Jacob's Air (Russell, Bruce L.) in Campus news (University of Western Australia), 9/9/1996, p. 10

External links[edit]