Puncher & Wattmann
Apollo in George Street: The Life of David Mckee Wright
by Michael Sharkey
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Apollo in George Street is a revelation. Not only does it tell the story of one of Australasia’s major forgotten literary figures, it also chronicles a surprisingly unconventional period in Australian history, when bohemia rubbed shoulders with the middle classes in the suburbs and the six o’clock swill had not yet even been dreamed of. This story introduces artists and writers who set the stage for more celebrated, but no less doomed-to-oblivion Australian bohemians such as Mick Paul, Dulcie Deamer, Ray Lindsay and others who ignored or resisted the rise of Modernism in Australian art and writing. Through its cast of characters, the story brings to life aspects of the literary culture of New Zealand in the years before its independence and of Australia in the early years of Federation. It’s a rattling good read.
“A century ago David McKee Wright was one of the brightest stars in the Australasian literary firmament. A lyrical poet of international standing, he also wrote hundreds of humorous and topical verses. As journalist extraordinaire and later editor of the Bulletin’s Red Page, he was a literary critic of great power and influence. Yet since his death Wright has been assigned to poetry’s lost legion. Like the Roman poet Varius, whom he elegised, ‘His music is a shadow and a doubt / A murmur of lost pride’.
In the pages of Apollo in George Street, Michael Sharkey now vividly conjures the man and his work for reappraisal by a new century. As urbane and generous as its subject, this book does full justice to Wright’s romantic, at times scandalous, but never less than astonishing career, tracing his often restless movements from Ireland to London, New Zealand, and finally Sydney; through his work, relationships and various poetic voices; and chronicling both his enemies and rivals and the remarkable range and strength of his many artistic friendships. In giving us back a life so richly lived, Sharkey’s splendid biography helps to rewrite our literary history and the values which inform it.”
Michael Sharkey is an Australian poet, author of thirteen collections of poetry, most recent of which is Another Fine Morning in Paradise (2012), awarded the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry. He has written edited, reviewed and otherwise promoted Australian, New Zealand and other poetry for over thirty years. He has also edited an anthology of Australian humour, and written biographical and other essays on Australian prose writers. He formerly taught in several Australian and overseas universities.
- Michael Sharkey, ‘Apollo in George Street’ in Landfall Review Online
- Michael Sharkey, ‘Apollo in George Street’ in The Journal of Transnational Literature
- Michael Sharkey, ‘Apollo in George Street: The Life of David McKee Wright’ in ABR