Randolph Stow

Join Dr Kate as she explores the life and cultural legacy of WA writer Randolph Stow (1935-2010), known as ‘Mick’ to family and friends.

Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1958 for his novel ‘To the Islands’ and Patrick White Award in 1979, Randolph Stow published 8 novels, several collections of poetry, a children’s novella and a libretto. Growing up in Geraldton, the mid-West landscape and history had an enduring impact on his writing.

One of his most well-known and loved books ‘Merry Go Round in the Sea’ (1965) was inspired by his childhood experiences in Geraldton in the 1940s. A prominent theme in Randolph Stow’s writing concerned the legacies of colonisation in WA, described in his novel Tourmaline (1963) in its opening passage ‘I say we have a bitter heritage, but that is not to run in down.’

Randolph Stow moved permanently to England in 1969, only returning once to Australia in 1975. He moved to Suffolk and Essex, which is where his colonial ancestors had emigrated from to the Swan River Colony and South Australia.

The State Library collections hold Randolph Stow’s published works as well as unpublished archival material within the Hallie Stow collection and audio recordings and oral histories with Stow. His private papers are held by the National Library of Australia.

Randolph Stow is in the WA Writers Hall of Fame.

This page last updated on
23 June 2022