• Collection of 12 letters written by Arthur Hoey Davis

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Letter from Arthur Hoey Davis to his Father

The son of a struggling selector who had taken up land at Emu Creek, near Toowoomba on the Darling Downs, Arthur Hoey Davis was born at Drayton in 1868. After a brief period of farm work, Davis entered the Queensland public service in 1885. By the early 1890s he was writing short topical articles on his favourite sport of rowing under the pseudonym ‘Steele Rudder’, a name he would soon shorten to ‘Steele Rudd’. A few years later Davis began directing his attention to the rural landscape he knew so well, becoming a regular contributor to the Sydney Bulletin. In 1899 the journal published a collection of his works entitled On Our Selection, followed in 1903 by Our New Selection. Retrenched from government employment the following year, Davis pursued a literary career which produced a string of magazines, 24 books and six plays. Although he acquired sufficient funds to purchase a farm at Nobby on the Darling Downs in 1909, the remainder of his life was a constant financial struggle which even the film adaptations of his best works failed to improve. In 1921 he became Vice-President of the Queensland Authors’ and Artists’ Association, though by then his most productive years were over. Davis died in Brisbane in 1935, and the irony was that his work was largely misunderstood. Attempting to portray the relentless struggle of small selectors for the understanding of urban consumers, his humorous style and sardonic wit was embraced on its own merits, with the scenes of despair fading into the background of his rich tapestries.


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