Alan Marshall (Australian author)

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A tree dedicated to the memory of Marshall in his childhood home town of Noorat.

Alan Marshall, (2 May 1902, Noorat, Victoria – 21 January 1984, Melbourne) was an Australian writer, story teller, humanist and social documenter.

Marshall received the Australian Literature Society Short Story Award three times, the first in 1933.[1] His best known book, I Can Jump Puddles (1955) is the first of a three-part autobiography. The other two books are This is the Grass (1962) and In Mine Own Heart (1963).

When Marshall was six years old he contracted polio leaving him with a physical disability that grew worse as he grew older.[2] From an early age, he resolved to be a writer, and in I Can Jump Puddles he demonstrated an almost total recall of his childhood in Noorat. The characters and places of his book are thinly disguised from real life: Mount Turalla is Mount Noorat, Lake Turalla is Lake Keilambete, the Curruthers are the Blacks, Mrs. Conlon is Mary Conlon of Dixie, Terang, and his best friend, Joe from the books, is Leo Carmody.[3] Australian poet and contemporary, Hal Porter wrote in 1965 that Marshall is:

... the warmest and most centralized human being ... To walk with ease and nonchalance the straight, straight line between appearing tragic and appearing willfully brave is a feat so complex I should not like to have to rake in the dark for the super-bravery to accomplish it.[4]

Marshall wrote numerous short stories, mainly set in the bush. He also wrote newspaper columns and magazine articles. He traveled widely in Australia and overseas. He also collected and published Indigenous Australian stories and legends.

Marshall died in 1984. His remains are interred at Nillumbik (Diamond Creek) Cemetery, Victoria, Australia.

Television series[edit]

In 1981 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation produced a nine-part mini-series of Marshall's autobiographical stories.[5] The actor, Adam Garnett, won the 1982 Logie Awards for Best Performance by a Juvenile, for his role as Alan Marshall in the series.


In 1985 the Shire of Eltham, where Marshall had lived for many years,[6] established the annual Alan Marshall Short Story Competition for emergent writers.[7] In 1937, he completed his first novel, How Beautiful Are Thy Feet, which remained unpublished until 1949.[8]



  • I Can Jump Puddles. Melbourne: F. W. Cheshire, 1955.
  • This is the Grass. Melbourne: F. W. Cheshire, 1962. ISBN 1-743-31486-8.
  • In Mine Own Heart. Melbourne: F. W. Cheshire, 1963.


  • Aboriginal Myths, with Sreten Bozic. Melbourne: Gold Star Publications, 1972. ISBN 0-7260-0113-9
  • Pull Down The Blind, with illustrations by Noel Counihan. Melbourne: F. W. Cheshire & London: Wadley & Ginn, 1949


  • These are my people. Melbourne: F.W. Cheshire, 1944
  • Ourselves Writ Strange. Melbourne: F.W. Cheshire, 1948
  • "These Were My Tribesmen". Melbourne: F.W. Cheshire, 1948


Children's Fiction[edit]


  1. ^ "Marshall, Alan". 
  2. ^ "Alan Marshall dies in nursing home.". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995). ACT: National Library of Australia. 22 January 1984. p. 1 Edition: SUNDAY EDITION. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Marshall, Alan (1903), Papers of Alan Marshall, 1903–1982, retrieved 26 September 2013 
  4. ^ Porter (1965) p. 38
  5. ^ "I can jump puddles (1981)". Australian Screen. Archived from the original on 19 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-13. 
  6. ^ "Alan Marshall Short Story Award – Background". Nillimbik Shire Council. Retrieved 2008-02-13. 
  7. ^ "2008 Alan Marshall Short Story Award". Nillimbik Shire Council. Archived from the original on 19 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-13. 
  8. ^ McLaren, John. "Marshall, Alan (1902–1984)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 


External links[edit]