Hugh Atkinson (novelist)

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Hugh Geddes Atkinson (1924 – 1994) was an Australian novelist, journalist, screenwriter and documentary film maker.

Early career[edit]

Hugh Atkinson was born in Parkes, New South Wales, Australia. In the course of his career, he worked at various jobs in the media industry in England, Germany, India, the Pacific and Australia. He worked as an advertising copywriter for the Lintas Group in the 1950s. He spent five years working as a technical officer for the Indian Government. He worked as a scriptwriter for the United Nations for two years. He became a full-time novelist in the late 1960s.[1]

Writing career[edit]

Hugh Atkinson's first novel, The Pink and the Brown, was published in 1957 and duly acclaimed as a critical success. Among other things, it looked at race relations in India in the 1950s. One of his later novels, The Longest Wire, recounted the story of the Overland Telegraph, one of the most ambitious projects attempted in 19th-century Australia. He wrote several other novels set in Outback Australia, notably Billy Two-Toes' Rainbow, which partly examines the lives of the Pitjantjatjara, an Aboriginal people of the Central Australian desert. His articles have appeared in The Bulletin[2] and Nation. In all, he published more than 15 books, including novels and children's books, and numerous short stories. Atkinson also wrote one novel under the pseudonym Hugh Geddes. It was a fictional recounting of the famous Pyjama Girl Case involving an apparently sordid murder which remained unsolved for many years.[3] The book was based on a 1977 film of the same name, directed by Italian filmmaker Flavio Mogherini.[4]

Screenwriting career[edit]

In addition to his extensive documentary film work, two of Hugh Atkinson’s novels were made into films. His novel The Games, about the Olympics, was made into a film of the same name. His novel The Reckoning was made into a dramatic film entitled Weekend of Shadows. He wrote the screenplays for both films, and also for L’amante végétale, a short story which was made into a film in French, directed by Jean Valmont.[5]


  • Atkinson, Hugh (1957). The Pink and the Brown. Victor Gollancz, London. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1961). Low Company. F. W. Cheshire, London. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1963). The Reckoning. The Bodley Head, London. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1968). The Games. Bantam Books. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1972). The Most Savage Animal. Rupert Hart Davis London, London. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1972). Johnny Horns. Corgi Children's, London. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1973). The Man in the Middle. Hart-Davis, London. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1974). Crack-up. Hart-Davis, London. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1977). Weekend to Kill. Angus & Robertson, Sydney. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1978). Unscheduled Flight. Mayflower, London. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1978). The Manipulators. Angus & Robertson, Sydney. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1982). Billy Two-Toes' Rainbow. Nelson. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1986). Grey's Valley: The Legend. Penguin. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1991). A Twist in the Tale: Three Novellas. Penguin/Allen Lane. 
  • Atkinson, Hugh (1992). Jumping Jeweller of Lavender Bay. Viking/Allen Lane. 

Last days[edit]

Hugh Atkinson was made an Emeritus Fellow of the Literature Board of the Australia Council.[6] He died in 1994.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Biographical notes, Low Company, F. W. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1961
  2. ^ Horne, Donald, Donald Horne on How I Came to Write "The Lucky Country," Melbourne University Press, 2006
  3. ^ Geddes, Hugh, The Pyjama Girl Case, Sun Books Pty., Ltd., ISBN 0-7251-0299-3, Melbourne, 1978
  4. ^
  5. ^ International Movie Database, retrieved on 13 January 2011
  6. ^ Wilde, H. W., et al., The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature, Oxford University Press. 1994