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Thomas Arthur (Tom) Hungerford (1915–2011)

by Nicholas Perpitch

Tom Hungerford,  by Kate O'Connor, c.1963

Tom Hungerford, by Kate O'Connor, c.1963

National Library of Australia, 4302527

Novelist, poet, playwright and autobiographer Tom Hungerford has died in Perth, aged 96.

His family said he passed away peacefully yesterday morning.

Hungerford, winner of the Patrick White Award in 2002, brought to the page life in the west before fellow sandgropers such as Tim Winton and Robert Drewe.

His best-known work, Stories from Suburban Road, made into a play and a television series, described his youth growing up during the Great Depression in the semi-rural outskirts of Perth.

He served in the army during World War II, joining the commandos and attacking the Japanese in guerilla raids behind enemy lines in Papua New Guinea. He drew from his war experiences to write the 1952 novel The Ridge and the River, which Edward Dunlop called "the essence of jungle warfare as it was fought by Australians".

Speaking to The Australian in 2005, he played down his achievements. "I'm a hardworking professional writer who has been on the job for 60 years, has some wonderful friends and wonderful memories,'' he said. "I'm proud of what I've achieved, which isn't a hell of a lot, but it's something.''

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Citation details

Nicholas Perpitch, 'Hungerford, Thomas Arthur (Tom) (1915–2011)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 May 2024.

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