Alan Marshall (Australian writer)

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Alan Marshall
Alan Marshall (Australian author).png
Born2 May 1902 (1902-05-02)
Noorat, Victoria, Australia
DiedJanuary 21, 1984(1984-01-21) (aged 81)
Melbourne (East Brighton)
Resting placeNillumbik (Diamond Creek) Cemetery
Notable worksI Can Jump Puddles (1955)
SpouseOlive Dixon
Children2 daughters
A tree dedicated to the memory of Marshall in his childhood home town of Noorat.

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

He 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 volumes are This is the Grass (1962) and In Mine Own Heart (1963).

Life and work[edit]

Marshall was born in Noorat, Victoria. At six years old he contracted polio, which left 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 was:

... 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]

During the early 1930s Marshall worked as an accountant at the Trueform Boot and Shoe Company, Clifton Hill and later wrote about life in the factory in his novel How beautiful are Thy Feet, 1949.[5]

Mount Noorat crater and summit, featured in Marshall's books

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.

His literary friends and associates included John Morrison and Clem Christesen.

He married Olive Dulcie Dixon in May 1941 and they had 2 daughters, Katherine and Jennifer. The couple divorced in 1957. For many years he lived in Sandringham[6]

Marshall died on 21 January 1984 in a nursing home in Brighton East Victoria where he had been a resident for the last two years.[7] His remains are interred at Nillumbik Cemetery, Diamond Creek, Victoria.[8]

Television series[edit]

In 1981 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation produced a nine-part mini-series of Marshall's autobiographical stories.[9] 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 1979 Alan Marshall unveiled a plaque on a monument to himself at his birthplace in Noorat.[10]

Marshall was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 1981 Australia Day Honours.[11]

In 1985 the Shire of Eltham, where Marshall had lived for many years,[12] established the annual Alan Marshall Short Story Competition for emergent writers.[13] In 1937, he completed his first novel, How Beautiful Are Thy Feet, which remained unpublished until 1949.[14]

There is a bronze bust of him and a plaque in the Sandringham Library, Melbourne.[15]

Sculptor Marcus Skipper created a realistic statue of Marshall cast in bronze which is located in the front of Eltham Library, a branch of Yarra Plenty Regional Library. It has been classified as significant by the National Trust.[16]

Alan Marshall Reserve, Eltham is located on the corner of Main Road and Leane Drive,[17] and has been there since at least 2007.[18]



  • 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.


  • The Complete Stories of Alan Marshall, with illustrations by Noel Counihan. Melbourne: Thomas Nelson ISBN 017005215X
  • 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, later reprinted as These Were My Tribesmen
  • Pioneers & Painters: One hundred years of Eltham and its Shire, Thomas Nelson, 1971 ISBN 0170019489


  • How Beautiful Are Thy Feet. Melbourne: Chesterhill Press, 1949. ISBN 0-14-005241-0
  • Fight for Life North Melbourne: Cassell Australia, [1972]

Children's Fiction[edit]


  1. ^ "Marshall, Alan".
  2. ^ "Alan Marshall dies in nursing home". The Canberra Times (SUNDAY ed.). 22 January 1984. p. 1. Retrieved 26 September 2013 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ Marshall, Alan (1903), Papers of Alan Marshall, 1903–1982, retrieved 26 September 2013
  4. ^ Porter (1965) p. 38
  5. ^ "The Trueform Boot Factory (1924-36)". Collingwood Historical Society. 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Alan Marshall". Bayside Library Service. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Alan Marshall dies in nursing home". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). 22 January 1984. p. 1. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Alan Marshall (1902-1984) - Find A Grave Memorial". 17 July 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  9. ^ "I can jump puddles (1981)". Australian Screen. Archived from the original on 19 January 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2008.
  10. ^ "Alan Marshall | Monument Australia". Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  11. ^ "William Alan Marshall". It's an Honour. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Alan Marshall Short Story Award – Background". Nillimbik Shire Council. Archived from the original on 27 October 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2008.
  13. ^ "2008 Alan Marshall Short Story Award". Nillimbik Shire Council. Archived from the original on 19 February 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2008.
  14. ^ McLaren, John. "Marshall, Alan (1902–1984)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Marcus Skipper Portrait of Alan Marshall Eltham Library". Victorian heritage Database. 21 December 2005. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Alan Marshall Reserve". Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  18. ^ "21 Sep 2007 - Eltham (Alan Marshall Reserve / Main Road) Profile | Metlink... - Archived Website". Trove. Archived from the original on 15 August 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2020.


  • Marks, Harry (1976). I Can Jump Oceans: The World of Alan Marshall. Melbourne: Thomas Nelson (Australia). ISBN 0-17-001977-2.
  • Miller, E. Morris & Frederick T. Macartney (1956) Australian Literature, Sydney, Angus & Robertson, pp. 324–5.
  • Morrison, John (1987), The Happy Warrior, Melbourne, Pascoe Publishing, ISBN 0-947087-08-7
  • Porter, Hal (September 1965). "Melbourne in the Thirties". The London Magazine. 5 (6): 31–47.

External links[edit]