Michael Sharkey, ‘Apollo in George Street’ in The Journal of Transnational Literature
Michael Sharkey explores this life fairly fully, with a poet’s eye and in fine prose. He is fair-minded and not afraid to make judgements, noting that McKee Wright’s poems ‘were characteristically vitiated’ by ‘padding’ and a ‘love of adjectives’ learnt from Tennyson. McKee Wright’s editorship was by turns generous and astute then wrongheaded: he ‘dismissed George Moore and Bernard Shaw’ and proclaimed James Stephens ‘the saving grace’ of the Irish renaissance, and argued that Lawson’s poetry was better than his prose. Yet in many respects McKee Wright seems to have been an admirable writer and an admirable man. As with Woods’s study of Baeyertz, we never feel that we get inside McKee Wright; perhaps that is impossible. Michael Sharkey’s book remains a very impressive biography and an important contribution to our understanding of a period which laid the foundations for modern Australian literature.