Michael Sharkey, ‘Apollo in George Street’ in Landfall Review Online

The Classic Trans-Tasmanaut

Denys Trussell reviews Apollo in George Street – The Life of David McKee Wright, by Michael Sharkey, in Landfall Review Online (New Zealand):


Sharkey does not sentimentalise. We do not see Wright and his milieu in the golden glow of a romantic past. This biographer pulls no punches about the nastiness of some of the notions with which his subject flirted, nor about his poetic failures. For all that Wright emerges as a libertarian – a loveable, gifted and generous man of natural charm and elegance. Some might also say a dandy and a philanderer; but the evidence in this book shows him living successively with three women, two of whom he continued to support after he had left them.

Sharkey gives a succinct account of Wright, the humanitarian attacking fascism, advocating disarmament, subjecting capitalism to moral scrutiny. He had always rejected violence as an instrument of policy, and one of his last ‘topicals’, a good one called 'Hell on High' condemns the American intervention in Nicaragua in the 1920s and its bombing of left-wing forces.

He left virtually no letters, diaries or other ‘private’ writing. His biographer had to achieve a phenomenal feat of reconstruction, detailing the life from correspondence and interviews by Wright’s acquaintance. There’s also the paper-trail left in the public domain – New Zealand sermons, Australian editorials – with something of the inner as well as the public man in them. Luckily he lived among alert, active, articulate people who provided substantive, opinionated and relevant commentary. Wright is, therefore, strongly present to us in this biography.

Denys Trussell

Read the full review: The Classic Trans-Tasmanaut

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