The Harp in the South
First UK edition (publ. Michael Joseph)
|Publisher||Angus & Robertson, Australia|
|Followed by||Poor Man's Orange|
The Harp in the South is the debut novel by Australian author Ruth Park. Published in 1948, it portrays the life of a Catholic Irish Australian family living in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, which was at that time an inner city slum.
The Harp in the South was published, initially, in the Sydney Morning Herald in twelve daily instalments, beginning on 4 January 1947, after winning a competition run by that newspaper. The prize was £2,000, and there were 175 entires.
It was controversial, with readers writing to the newspaper, on the basis of the synopsis, even before the serialisation started. Delia Falconer writes that The Herald published "forty-three responses, a symposium, and a daily tally of pro and con letters (sixty-eight for; fifty-four against)". It was published in book form in 1948 by Angus & Robertson, who baulked at the novel but "had to honour a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ to publish the winner".
Nonetheless, it has become a classic and has never been out of print.
Married to Margaret Darcy. Hughie often becomes drunk after work and his best friend is Patrick Diamond, even though Patrick is Protestant and he is Catholic. Father of Rowena and Dolour. Hughie wants to get out of Surry Hills and back to the bush but he has a family to support so is trapped.
Mother of Rowena and Dolour, Mother-in-law of Charlie Rothe. She is a devout Catholic and although generally accepting, sometimes fights with Patrick Diamond (their lodger) over his religious beliefs.
Rowena "Roie" Darcy:
Married to Charlie Rothe, they have one child, Moira. In her youth, she was courted by Tommy Mendel, but after sleeping with her, he disappeared. Roie secretly worked at two jobs to save enough for an abortion when she discovers she is expecting Tommy's baby but at the last minute cannot go through with it. On her way home, she is attacked and savagely beaten by a group of sailors and loses the baby.
Charlie is assumed to be part aboriginal although he doesn't know his parents as he was taken away as a baby and put in a home. He is married to Rowena Darcy whom he met when her younger sister, Dolour took part in a radio quiz show, "Junior Information Please". Roie was feeling sick and he helped her outside for air. Charlie knew there was no racial prejudice with Roie but . Margaret did not accept him at first and Dolour was angry with him because he was stealing Roie from her.
Dolour is the youngest in her family. A very bright girl, she aspires to get a good education and escape from Surry Hills. She is aunty to "Motty" Roie's child and good friends with elderly Chinese greengrocer, Lick Jimmy.
Protestant. Every St.Patricks day, he will get drunk and abuse (verbally) Mrs. Darcy. When he suffered a stroke, Lick Jimmy performed an emergency 'bleed' by cutting open a vein to ease the pressure. Pat was unaware of this, as he had passed out because Hughie, also drunk, had hit him.
Mother to disabled Johnny Sheily, she constantly abused him. When he was knocked down and killed she seemed relieved rather than upset. Later, Roie saw her flagellating herself and crying Johnny's name. She marries a Swedish man named Gunnarson.
Sequel and prequel
1949 stage adaptation
1964 British TV version
|The Harp in the South|
|Directed by||Alan Burke|
|Written by||Bruce Stewart|
|10 July 1964|
Alan Burke had written a musical adaption of Harp in the South which has not been professionally produced.
- Ed Devereaux as Hughie Darcy
- Brenda Dunrich as Mumma Darcy
- Bettina Dickson as Delie Stock
- Veronica Lang as Roie Darcy
- Andy Ho as Lick Jimmy
- Muguette De Braie as Rosa Siciliano
- George Roderick as Luigi Siciliano
- Colette Martin as Dolour Darcy
- Moya O'Sullivan as Miss Sheily
- Bill Levis as Johnny Sheily
- Kevin Brennan as Patrick Diamond
- Lew Luton as Tommy Mendel
1986 and 1987 miniseries
|Poor Man's Orange|
|Written by||George Whaley|
|Directed by||George Whaley|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of episodes||2|
|Original network||Network Ten|
|Original release||14 September 1987|
The Harp in the South and Poor Man's Orange were both adapted into TV miniseries, the former in 1986, the latter in 1987.
|Anne Phelan||Mumma Darcy|
|Martyn Sanderson||Hughie Darcy|
|Anna Hruby||Roie Darcy|
|Kaarin Fairfax||Dolour Darcy|
|Gwen Plumb||Grandma Kilker|
|Syd Conabere||Pat Diamond|
|Melissa Jaffer||Miss. Sheily|
|Shane Connor||Charlie Rothe|
|Brandon Burke||Tommy Mendel|
|Ken Radley||Johnny Sheily|
|Lois Ramsay||Mrs. Campion|
|Cecil Parkee||Lick Jimmy|
|Carole Skinner||Delie Stock|
|Charles Tingwell||Father Cooley|
2018 stage adaptation
Kate Mulvany adapted The Harp in the South, its prequel and sequel into a six-hour play over two-parts. It was first produced by the Sydney Theatre Company at the Roslyn Packer Theatre from August 2018, directed by Kip Williams.
- Falconer, Delia. "The Harp in the South". Reading Australia. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
- "MUSIC AND THE THEATRE". The Sunday Herald (Sydney) (6). New South Wales, Australia. 27 February 1949. p. 10. Retrieved 22 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
- Vagg, Stephen (18 February 2019). "60 Australian TV Plays of the 1950s & '60s". Filmink.
- Ed. Scott Murray, Australia on the Small Screen 1970-1995, Oxford Uni Press, 1996 p229
- Tongue, Cassie (27 August 2018). "The Harp in the South review | Theatre in Sydney". Time Out Sydney. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
- Dow, Steve (21 August 2018). "From Sydney slums to gay nuns: adapting Ruth Park's novels for the stage". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 January 2019.