Reprint: Australian Authors: Norman Lindsay by Aidan de Brune

Norman Lindsay, artist, philosopher, and novelist, is an Australian phenomenon. His fame is world-wide. Like Nellie Melba, he has surprised the world with the possession of a rare gift, and shown that genius can be native to this land of empty spaces and a small population. Norman Lindsay is acknowledged to be the greatest living illustrator in black-and-white, and one of the finest craftsmen with the pen who has ever lived. Even those who dislike the nude in art, which Norman Lindsay lavishly displays, are compelled to acknowledge the incomparable dexterity and technical excellence of his work.

He is many-sided. In his serious work as an artist he has proved himself a master of oil-painting, water-colour, etching, wood engraving and dry-point. His pen and ink illustrations to the sumptuous editions of Greek and Roman classics which have been published in London are sought by collectors of rare books throughout the world. In the spacious gardens of his home at Springwood, in the Blue Mountains, there are dozens of life-size sculptures which he has modelled. In his studio there are numerous models of sailing-ships in full rig, among them the clipper Thermopylae and an Elizabethan warship, which experts consider to be perfect in every detail. His model of Captain Cook's Endeavour is preserved in the Melbourne Museum. For twenty years he was principal cartoonist on the Sydney 'Bulletin' and he still contributes occasional humorous drawings and cartoons to that journal. He is a brilliant conversationalist and charming host. His home at Springwood has been a place of pilgrimage for many celebrated people, such as Anna Pavlova, Fritz Kreisler and Melba, who have been eager to pay their respects to an Australian who has proved his claim to the title of genius.

Norman Lindsay is the author of a number of books. "The Magic Pudding", a humorous tale for children, written and illustrated by him, is an Australian "best- seller." It was published by Angus and Robertson, Ltd. "A Curate in Bohemia," published by the N.S.W. Bookstall Co., Ltd: was written many years ago. It deals with the humorous aspect of life amongst the artists in Melbourne, in the 'nineties. More than 50,000 copies have been sold. Turning to more serious themes, in "Creative Effort," published in London, in 1924, Norman Lindsay expounded the philosophical basis of artistic endeavour. A philosophical novel, in dialogue, "Madame Life's Lovers," published in London, in 1929, gave further expression to the serious side of his thoughts.        

Leaving the artistic theme, he described in "Redheap," published in London and New York, in 1930, the humorous aspects of family life in an Australian mining town of forty years ago. Exception was taken to the book by the Australian Customs officials, who ordered the return of 10,000 copies to London. "Redheap" has now been turned into a play by Floyd Dell, the celebrated American dramatist, and is to be produced in New York this year. When "Redheap" was banned, Norman Lindsay left Australia, declaring that a country which consistently neglected its authors or treated them shabbily was not a properly civilised place. He travelled through America and England, and incidentally arranged for the publication of more of his novels. Two of these, "Mr. Gresham on Olympus" and "The Cautious Amorist," have recently been issued in both London and New York. Although not banned; it is difficult to obtain them in Australia, owing to the curtailment of book importing by adverse exchange rates and prevailing economic conditions.    

In London, Norman Lindsay persuaded Mr. P. R. Stephensen, a Queensland Rhodes Scholar with practical experience in book publishing in England, to undertake the organisation of an Australian Book Publishing Company, to encourage the work of our local authors. On Mr. Stephensen's arrival in Australia four months ago, the Bulletin Newspaper Company agreed to place its organisation and resources at the disposal of the new firm, of which both Mr. Lindsay and Mr. Stephensen are directors.          

This new Australian publishing house will begin issuing books next month under the imprint of The Endeavour Press. The press-mark of the firm is a design of Captain Cook's Endeavour in full sail, designed by Norman Lindsay. The first novel issued will be a new book by Norman Lindsay, entitled "Saturdee," a humorous story about Australian schoolboy pranks, mischief and fun. Its appearance will be eagerly awaited.  

First published in The West Australian, 1 April 1933

Note: you can read a little about the banning of Redheap here.

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 17, 2010 8:58 AM.

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