Ronald McKie (1909-91)

Brief Biography

Ronald McKie was born in 1909 in Toowoomba, Queensland and educated at the University of Queensland. He later worked as a journalist on various newspapers in Australia, Singapore and China. During the Second World War he served with the AIF before becoming a war correspondent in Burma and Italy. After the war he reported on the Potsdam Conference in Berlin and the Quisling trial in Norway before taking up employment with the Daily Telegraph. His first novel, The Mango Tree, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1974.

Ronald McKie died in 1991.


The Mango Tree 1974
The Crushing 1977
Bitter Bread 1978

This was Singapore 1942
Proud Echo 1953
The Heroes 1960
Malaysia in Focus 1963
The Company of Animals 1965
Bali 1969
Singapore 1972
Echoes from Forgotten Wars 1980
We Have No Dreaming 1988 (autobiography)

THE MANGO TREE book cover The Mango Tree Ronald McKie 1974

Dustjacket synopsis:

"From the sheltering branches of the mango tree, Jamie watched the town beneath him, through days of shimmering heat choked with red dust and the rainstorms whihc brought mud to the mangroves.

"Everything was as it should be - the familiar sights sounds and smells of his childhood. Until it chnaged overnight when Jamie fell in love. It was a tender, fumbling first love that flowed and ebbed just as suddenly. And in its wake came death, the sudden shocking death of someone he loved. When it was, finally, all over, Jamie had grown to be a man..."

"A richly nostalgic and sensual book" - The Australian
"...beautifully written, sensitively evocative of the joy and pain of growing is a work by a true professional who is a superb word-handler...This is a novel which bears the mark of the craftsman who is master of the language." - From the report of the judges of the Miles Franklin Award

First Paragraph:

A black wind from across the mountains brought dust and grass seeds and a melancholy crying. It cuffed the long leaves of the mago tree, threw powdered cane trash against the windows. It spread dark stains on the river and the stains travelled with the tides until they were absorbed or taken to sea.

After three days the wind stopped and into the silence came another, sticky with salt and stinking of weed, but cool and soft from the southern marches of the Coral Sea, so that in the piccaninny daylight of that Christmas Eve, as the men left the scrub that clamped the town against the river and came down the long street, their flannels stained a darker grey, their boots fresh-blacked with dew, the morning was still and cloudless and splashed with birds.

From the Fremantle Arts Centre Press paperback edition, 2000.

This novel won the Miles Franklin Award in 1974.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: May 17, 2001.