One of the most influential and respected authors in Australia is Ivan Southall. He was a prolific writer whose main works, mostly for children and teenagers, were published in the 1960s and 70s. He had a profound influence upon me as a teacher and writer. I think I’ve read most of his books; it’s about time I revisit the best of them as I haven’t read any of them in many years, despite taking up space on my bookshelves.
I was saddened to hear late last year that Ivan Southall had died, aged 87 after a short battle with cancer. He is best known for his novels Hills End, Ash Road, Josh and To the Wild Sky. He wrote 30 novels and many other books, some for adults. He was a four time winner of the Australian Children’s Book of the Year Award, just four of many awards in his lifetime. His works have been translated into at least 20 languages.
Southall’s writing was exciting and he often put his characters in difficult and dangerous situations, often without adult help. I found his writing to be very lyrical, pushing the boundaries of what many regarded as good literature for children.
Before his writing career began he was a pilot in the RAAF during WW2, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross in the process. His early books draw heavily on his war time experiences.
Vale Ivan Southall, 1921 – 2008.