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Patrick White's Ploughman

As Australia’s only Nobel laureate for literature, and arguably one of the country's greatest writers, Patrick White holds an important place within Australian literature.

 The State Library has now acquired an extremely rare publishers edition of White’s early work The Ploughman and Other Poems. The Ploughman was the second of White’s books to be published. It was originally printed in Sydney as a limited run of 300 standard copies and was illustrated by L. Roy Davies. Only a small number of these are known to exist in private and public collections and the scarcity of the standard edition is due to White’s own admission that he had “burnt a suitcase full of the books”. White aimed to destroy more as he was unhappy with the quality of the writing. In addition to the 300 standard copies, 6 publisher’s copies were also printed of which the Library’s recent acquisition is number 3.

This previously unrecorded copy complements the Library’s extensive collection of works by and about Patrick White, including his personal library which was bequeathed to the Library in 1990.

The Ploughman and Other Poems is held in the Mitchell Library at MRB/203. More information about the State Library's Patrick White collection can be found in the Patrick White research guide.

Simon Cootes
Collection Development Librarian