Literary Birthday – 28 May – Patrick White

Patrick White was born 28 May 1912, and died 30 September 1990.


  1. If truth is not acceptable, it becomes the imagination of others.
  2. Why can’t a writer use writing as a painter uses paint? I try to.
  3. Probably induced by the asthma, I started reading and writing early on, my literary efforts from the age of about nine running chiefly to poetry and plays.
  4. If I have not lost my mind I can sometimes hear it preparing to defect.
  5. I always like to write three versions of a book. The first is always agony and chaos; no one could understand it. With the second you get the shape, it’s more or less all right. I write both of those in longhand. The third draft I type out with two fingers: it’s for refining of meaning, additions and subtractions.
  6. There’s nothing so inhuman as a human being.
  7. I think my novels usually begin with characters; you have them floating about in your head and it may be years before they get together in a situation. Characters interest me more than situations.
  8. I think it is impossible to explain faith. It is like trying to explain air, which one cannot do by dividing it into its component parts and labelling them scientifically. It must be breathed to be understood
  9. Life is full of alternatives but no choice.
  10. In my books I have lifted bits from various religions in trying to come to a better understanding; I’ve made use of religious themes and symbols. Now, as the world becomes more pagan, one has to lead people in the same direction in a different way.
  11. The essence of what you have to say you pick up before you’re twenty.
  12. To understand the stars would spoil their appearance.
  13. She had begun to read in the beginning as a protection from the frightening and unpleasant things. She continued because, apart from the story, literature brought with it a kind of gentility for which she craved.

Patrick White was an English-born Australian writer. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973 and published 12 novels, three short-story collections and eight plays. He is the author of Voss and The Tree Of Man.

Source for photograph:

By Unknown author – David Marr, Patrick White: A Life, Random House, 1991, Public Domain,

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 28th May 2015