Alfred Jackson Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Xavier Herbert was the last and perhaps the best of the nationalist novelists who celebrated the Australian legend of the bush. In his final novel, Poor Fellow My Country, he predicted doom for Australia unless it turned away from modernization, internationalism, and urbanization. He was in person—and often in his fiction—bigoted, homophobic, sexist, and xenophobic. At the same time, however, he was one of the first writers to treat the Aborigine sympathetically.{$S[A]Jackson, Alfred;Herbert, Xavier}

Born illegitimate on the coast of Western Australia, he dropped his original name, Alfred Jackson, for the more romantic one by which he became known. He left the remote West in the early 1920’s and moved to Melbourne, where he began to write. In 1926 his first story was published under the name Herbert Astor. A year later he set out on his wanderings in the Northern Territory, Australia’s most isolated and unsettled region. There he gathered material that he used in his first novel, Capricornia, and in his final book.

In 1930 he went to England, which he disliked immensely, but there with the help of Sadie Nordern, who later became his wife, he completed the first draft of Capricornia, the book generally considered to be his finest work. After two years in England, he returned to Australia. To support himself and to earn money for Sadie’s passage to Australia, he continued to write conventional and formulaic...

(The entire section is 556 words.)