Although the works of Harold Edward Porter spanned many genres, he is best known for his three volumes of autobiography. An accomplished stylist, Porter broke away from the plain, realistic style that had characterized earlier Australian writing. Although he never gained an extensive international reputation, his work was widely read and admired in Australia during his later life. It received numerous literary prizes and the full attention of Australian critics. Time, however, has not been kind to Porter, whose reputation has faded over the years.
The oldest child in a large family, Porter was born in Melbourne. He was six years old when his family moved to Bairnsdale in Gippsland, a somewhat tropical agricultural and mining area. After completing his education, he worked first as a newspaper reporter, then started teaching—a career he would follow off and on until the 1960’s, when he became a full-time writer. During the 1930’s and 1940’s he was writing but publishing very little.
In 1939 he married but was divorced four years later and never remarried. As a result of injuries sustained in a serious automobile crash, he was unable, much to his regret, to serve in World War II. During the war years, he taught in Adelaide and in 1942 published his first book: fourteen stories in a privately printed volume simply titled Short Stories.
Taking a break from teaching after the war, Porter worked as a hotel cook and...
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