Randolph Stow

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Randolph Stow
Born Julian Randolph Stow
(1935-11-28)28 November 1935
Geraldton, Western Australia
Died 29 May 2010(2010-05-29) (aged 74)
Harwich, Essex, England, United Kingdom
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, novelist and poet.

Early life[edit]

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. 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 taught English Literature at the University of Adelaide, the University of Western Australia and the University of Leeds.


He also worked on an Aboriginal mission in the Kimberley, which he used as background for his third novel To the Islands. Stow further worked as an assistant to an anthropologist, Charles Julius, and cadet patrol officer in the Trobriand Islands. In the Trobriands 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.

England and America[edit]

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. He last visited Australia in 1974.

Awards and legacy[edit]

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 musical theatre 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.

Personal life[edit]

A deeply private person, Stow's life was dogged at times by loneliness and depression (including two suicide attempts), probable alcoholism, an addiction to prescription drugs, and a struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality in a time when it was oppressed.[3][4][5]


He died in England of a pulmonary embolism after being diagnosed with liver cancer at the age of 74.[6]

Awards list[edit]

Selected works[edit]




  • Midnite: The Story of a Wild Colonial Boy 1967

Musical Theatre[edit]


  1. ^ Suzie Gibson. The Case for Randolph Stow's To the Islands. The Conversation, 24 June 2014.
  2. ^ Catalogue: State Library of WA & WA Health Libraries Network
  3. ^ "Phillip Hall Reviews Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow". Cordite Poetry Review. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  4. ^ "The private letters of poets". Overland literary journal. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  5. ^ "Randolph Stow's farewell to Australia for a life of self-exile". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  6. ^ The Australian, 31 May 2010 Archived 14 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Past winners". Miles Franklin Literary Award. Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Randolph Stow Young Writers Award". City of Greater Geraldton Regional Library. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 


  • Cary, Gabrielle Moving Among Strangers: Randolph Stow and My Family, University of Queensland Press, 2014
  • Falkiner, Suzanne Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow, University of Western Australia Press, 2016

External links[edit]