Stories

The Watch & Happily Ever After

Two Stories: in sketch-form, from the author’s first prose selection, 1956. Town And City: Tales and Sketches by David Rowbotham (A & R Classics, Sydney).

History: These tales and sketches, along with the author’s novel, The Man In The Jungle (A & R, 1964), influenced a generation of Australian writers. Hal Porter acknowledged his debt to David Rowbotham’s stories and vignettes – pointillist and impressionist. David Campbell, Ray Mathew, Nancy Keesing, et al, took up the baton. It was a new flourish in Australian literature in the 1940s and 1950s, extending into the 1960s when new poets also added the short story to their accomplishments. There remains an uncollected short story by David Rowbotham, entitled The White Cottage (Sydney Bulletin, August 17, 1955, pp.20-23). His novel, The Man In The Jungle, when it appeared in the 1960s was widely received as an exciting thriller, belonging to a genre rarely found in Australia then. Both prose volumes were extremely influential among writers. David Malouf, Thomas Shapcott and Rodney Hall have all recorded in correspondence how Rowbotham was the first published author they had ever met when they were young, and that his reputation as an “all-rounder” (poet, novelist, short-story writer, critic) strongly persuaded them to follow his example. They have done so. David Rowbotham stopped writing fictional prose when literary journalism, a vital element of his work, engaged him.

The following two sketches have been chosen because the one typfies the “town” character, and the other the “city” character of the book of stories that became an Australian classic. It was compared by Kenneth Slessor to the 19th Century French author Alphonse Daudet’s “Lettres de mon Moulin” (Sketches from my Mill, 1866). Its stories have appeared in many Australian and overseas anthologies. Rowbotham’s work was influenced by Daudet, and by the American Sherwood Anderson of “Winesburg, Ohio” (1919). He “read”, extensively, the short stories of the world, and some of his are included among them in Oxford Classics.

Jacket drawing for Town And City: Tales And Sketches

Jacket drawing for Town And City: Tales And Sketches

Jacket drawing for David Rowbotham’s book of short stories, Town And City: Tales And Sketches (A & R Classics, Sydney, 1956)