Norman as a Writer

Norman Lindsay’s first novel was published 1913 and over the 56 years to 1969 and his last work “My Mask”( his auto biography published in 1970), he wrote 10 novels, 2 children’s books, numerous essays and books of his own artworks and three autobiographical works.

Below is a snapshot of some of his literary work.

A Curate in Bohemia – 1913 – set in Melbourne and focused on the café set and emerging bohemian lifestyle in Melbourne at the time.

The Magic Pudding-1918- Normans first children’s book. See separate page on the website.

Redheap –Norman wrote Redheap which in 1930 was published in the UK and USA (as “Every Mother’s Son”) and was successful but subsequently banned for thirty years in Australia for being “indecent and obscene.”  Redheap is a pseudonym for Creswick and many of the characters are based on real residents of the town. Although it was a fictional novel, its characters loosely based on Creswick people and contained half-truths which damaged the lives of ordinary people. The novel caused a large rift between Norman, Lionel and Daryl because Norman used material from Lionel’s diary and letters from Mary. Daryl used his influence to have the novel banned. Norman’s response was that Australia’s only trouble was that it had” too many wowsers”

Miracles by Arrangement – 1932

Saturdee – 1933 – based on Norman’s boyhood in Creswick, this book describes real boys, not noble moral emblems as was often the case in this period.

The Cautious Amorist – 1934 –Described as an uproariously funny novel involving a small shipwrecked group stranded on a desert island.

Pan in the Parlour – 1934

The Flyaway Highway – 1936 – Norman’s second children’s book had none of the success of the Magic Pudding.  It features Silvander Dan, a cheeky satyr, who takes two children, Egbert and Murial Jane, on a magical ever-changing road, littered with crazy characters and absurd adventures.  Interestingly the first character which Lucy meets when she enters Narnia in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is a satyr.  CS Lewis wrote the first Narnia book in 1949.  

Age of Consent – 1938 – This book was made into a film in 1969 by famous producer Michael Powell, starring James Mason and a very young Helen Mirren.  It sticks to the plot closely except the artist in the film is portrayed as a very successful painter who exhibits his abstract, modernist paintings in New York.  Norman hated modernism.

The Cousin from Fiji – 1945 – set in Ballarat.

Halfway to Anywhere – 1947 – the second of the Redheap trilogy, it was the least successful possibly because it portrayed adolescence so well as to make readers feel uncomfortable.

Dust or Polish? – 1950- Set in Sydney; this story describes a retired showgirl’s career change into the secondhand furniture trade.

Rooms and Houses – 1968- Perhaps almost autobiographical, this novel follows the career of a struggling young artist.

My Mask -1970- Norman Lindsay’s autobiography completed in 1969.
Museum Australia (Vic) Archival Survival Volunteer Museum 2014
Place of Deposit, Public Records Office of Victoria
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