Randolph Stow

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For the South Australian judge, see Randolph Isham Stow.
Randolph Stow
Born Julian Randolph Stow
(1935-11-28)28 November 1935
Geraldton, Western Australia, Australia
Died 29 May 2010(2010-05-29) (aged 74)
Harwich, Essex, England, UK
Alma mater University of Western Australia
Notable works To the Islands (1958)
Notable awards Miles Franklin Award (1958)
Patrick White Award (1979)

Julian Randolph Stow (28 November 1935 – 29 May 2010) was an Australian-born writer.


Born in Geraldton, Western Australia, Randolph Stow attended Geraldton Primary and High schools, Guildford Grammar School, the University of Western Australia, and the University of Sydney. He lectured in English Literature at the University of Adelaide, the University of Western Australia and the University of Leeds. During his undergraduate years in Western Australia he wrote two novels and a collection of poetry, which were published in London by Macdonald & Co. He also worked on an Aboriginal mission in the Kimberley, used as background for his third novel To the Islands, and as an assistant to an anthropologist, Charles Julius, and cadet patrol officer in the Trobriand Islands, where he suffered a mental and physical breakdown that led to his repatriation to Australia. Twenty years later, he used these last experiences in his novel Visitants.

Stow's first visit to England took place in 1960, after which he returned several times to Australia. Tourmaline, his fourth novel, was completed in Leeds in 1962. In 1964 and 1965 he travelled in North America on a Harkness Fellowship, including a sojourn in Aztec, New Mexico, during which he wrote one of his best known novels, The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea. While living in Perth (WA) in 1966 he wrote his popular children's book Midnite.

From 1969 to 1981 he lived at East Bergholt in Suffolk in England, his ancestral county, and he used traditional tales from that area to inform his novel The Girl Green as Elderflower. The last decades of his life he spent in nearby Harwich, the setting for his final novel The Suburbs of Hell. His last visit to Australia took place in 1974.

His novel To the Islands won the Miles Franklin Award for 1958.[1] He was awarded the Patrick White Award in 1979. As well as producing fiction, poetry, and numerous book reviews for the Times Literary Supplement, he also wrote libretti for theatrical works by Peter Maxwell Davies.

A considerable number of Randolph Stow's poems are listed in the State Library of Western Australia online catalogue[2] with indications where they have been anthologised.

He died in England of a pulmonary embolism after being diagnosed with liver cancer at the age of 74.[3]


Selected works[edit]


  • A Haunted Land 1956
  • The Bystander 1957
  • To the Islands 1958 (revised in 1982)
  • Tourmaline 1963
  • The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea 1965
  • Visitants 1979
  • The Girl Green as Elderflower 1980
  • The Suburbs of Hell 1984


  • Act One 1957
  • Outrider: Poems 1956–1962 1962
  • A Counterfeit Silence: Selected Poems of Randolph Stow 1969


  • Midnite: The Story of a Wild Colonial Boy 1967

Musical Theatre[edit]


External links[edit]