Gerald Murnane

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Gerald Murnane (born 25 February 1939) is an Australian writer.


Murnane was born in Coburg, Melbourne, and has almost never left the state of Victoria. Parts of his childhood were spent in Bendigo and the Western District. In 1956 he matriculated from De La Salle College Malvern.

Murnane briefly trained for the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1957. He abandoned this path, however, instead becoming a teacher in primary schools (from 1960 to 1968), and at the Victoria Racing Club's Apprentice Jockeys' School. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne in 1969, then worked in the Victorian Education Department until 1973. From 1980 he began to teach creative writing at various tertiary institutions.

In 1969 Murnane moved to the Melbourne suburb of Macleod. After the death of his wife in 2009 Murnane moved to Goroke in country Victoria, where he is involved in amateur yabby[disambiguation needed] judging.[citation needed]

He married in 1966 and has three sons.[1]


Murnane's first two books, Tamarisk Row (1974) and A Lifetime on Clouds (1976), seem to be semi-autobiographical accounts of his childhood and adolescence. Both are composed largely of very long but grammatical sentences.

In 1982, he attained his mature style with The Plains, a short novel about a young filmmaker who travels to a fictive country far within Australia, where his failure to make a film is perhaps his most profound achievement. The novel is both a metaphysical parable about appearance and reality, and a parodic examination of traditions and cultural horizons. The novel depicts an abstracted Australia, akin to something out of mythology or fable. The novel was followed by: Landscape With Landscape (1985), Inland (1988), Velvet Waters (1990), and Emerald Blue (1995). A book of essays, Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs, appeared in 2005, and a new work of fiction, Barley Patch, was released in 2009. All of these books are concerned with the relation between memory, image, and landscape, and frequently with the relation between fiction and non-fiction.

Although Murnane is primarily known within Australia, he does have a following in other countries, especially Sweden and the United States, where The Plains was published in 1985.


Murnane is an avid follower of horse racing, which often serves as a metaphor in his work. A documentary, Words and Silk – The Real and Imaginary Worlds of Gerald Murnane (1989), directed by Philip Tyndall, examined Murnane's childhood, work, approach to the craft of writing, and interest in horseracing. Since his retirement to Goroke, Murnane has been a regular golfer at the Goroke Golf Course where he is the current par 3 champion.

He taught himself to read Hungarian.



  • (1974) Tamarisk Row. William Heinemann Australia, Melbourne.
  • (1976) A Lifetime on Clouds. William Heinemann Australia, Melbourne.
  • (1982) The Plains. Norstrilia Press, Melbourne.
  • (1985) Landscape With Landscape. Norstrilia Press, Melbourne.
  • (1988) Inland. William Heinemann Australia, Melbourne.
  • (1990) Velvet Waters. McPhee Gribble, Melbourne.
  • (1995) Emerald Blue. McPhee Gribble, Melbourne.
  • (2005) Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs. Giramondo Publishing Company, Sydney, distributed by Tower Books.
  • (2009) Barley Patch. Giramondo Publishing Company, Sydney.
  • (2012) A History of Books. Giramondo Publishing Company, Sydney.
  • (2014) A Million Windows. Giramondo Publishing Company, Sydney.
  • (2015) Something for the Pain: A Memoir of the Turf. Text Publishing, Melbourne.


  1. ^ The biographical information contained in this section can be found in Imre Salusinszky, Gerald Murnane (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. ix-x.
  2. ^ Koch, Murnane receive emeritus awards.
  3. ^ A very Melbourne man collects literary prize.

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