Tuesday, 4 April 2017




Ruth Park, pre 1947, by unknown photographer.jpg
pre 1947 
reproduction rights owned by the State Library NSW

I would think that few of us would instantly recognise this lady, but there would be few Australians, and lovers of great stories, who wouldn't recognise a number of her thoughtful portrayal of the lives of early Australians in "Poor Man's Orange" and "Harps of the South".. the author is Ruth Park. I loved both those books and have reread them over the years. I don't recall reading the third in the trilogy, "Missus".. I must look for that. 

Her works included novels, non-fiction and also children's books. She also wrote the children's serial "The Muddle Headed Wombat"...

Rosina Ruth Lucia Park was born on the 21st August, 1917 in Auckland and though she didn't migrate to Australia till 1942, she is often thought of as an Australian writer. I like to think that both New Zealand and Australia can share her.

She lived till the age of 93, passing away on 14 December, 2010.

There is a wealth of information 'freely available' in the 'Pictures, photos, objects' section of TROVE.

You can even read one of her childrens' books, Playing Beatie Bow, by going to open library at 
either online, or by borrowing the ebook as it becomes available. You may have to join the waiting list, or links are given to look for it elsewhere.

Cover of: Playing beatie bow by Ruth Park     

About the Book

A lonely Australian girl from a divided family is transported back to the 1880's and an immigrant family from the Orkney Islands.

Edition Notes

For 10-14 year olds.

A photo taken in 1962 of Ruth Park holding her cat, can be found at Ruth Park holding her cat outside her home in Balgowlah, Sydney, 10 December, 1962 / John Mulligan. As the copyright is in place for some years yet, I am unable to reproduce it here.

In 1942, Ruth married author D'Arcy Niland, with whom she had five daughters. The youngest two, twins Kilmeny and Deborah, became book illustrators.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Park

Digitised newspapers have numerous mentions of Ruth Park...  this is the release of "Poor Man's Orange"...  week by week. I'm not sure I could have waited to read it in instalments.

The Sunday Herald Sun 26 Jun 1949

While most eagerly awaited each instalment, and applauded "Poor Man's Orange", the letters to the editor were mixed as these two examples show..

The Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday 13 July 1949

Never too far out of the headlines, in 1949, Ms Park was writing a Gossip Column .. 
as in this excerpt of one, featured in the Sunday Mail in October 1949. 
I guess not even the prolific Ruth Park could write prizewinning novels
full time.

The death of her husband, D'Arcy Niland in 1967, at just 48 years, devastated Ruth.

In 1970, Kilmeny and Deborah Niland both wrote and illustrated "Land of Kiss-the Hand" Travellers' Tale, just one of many collaborations by these talented sisters as they followed in their parents' footsteps.

The Australian Women's Weekly was yet another publication which  found Ruth newsworthy ..

Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982), Wednesday 14 October 1981

Please click to enlarge..

This collaboration by mother and daughter was first published in 1974  as is shown in the Music, Sound and Video section of TROVE.. at 

Callie's castle / by Ruth Park ; illustrated by Kilmeny Niland

Park, Ruth, 1917-2010

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  • Callie's castle / by Ruth Park ; illustrated by Kilmeny Niland
  • Callie's castle / by Ruth Park ; illustrated by Kilmeny Niland
  • Callie's castle / by Ruth Park ; illustrated by Kilmeny Niland
Park, Ruth, 1917-2010
Families - Juvenile fiction.Fiction.Children's stories, Australian.
Juvenile; Primary
Callie's secret room helps her come to terms with changes in her family life and changes within herself. 
Work ID
Kilkenny died the year before her mother, in 2009, from a heart ailment, as had her father. She was just 49.

If you would like to read more on Ruth Park, this .pdf is available to download  via the National Library at


Other sources...


 This has a list of her many works, as well as some of her family's, along with the numerous awards received over her career.

For more research...

* https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ruth-Park



  1. Thanks for this post Chris I really enjoyed reading about Ruth Park. Like you, I've always loved Harp in the South and Poor Man's Orange. Hard to pick the favourite

  2. Thanks, Jennifer...she was such a talented writer.. as was her husband and the two daughters mentioned. I enjoyed compiling this post, and have so much more about her life that I want to explore.
    Thanks for your comment.


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