The Wheeler Centre
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The Late Great: Ruth Park
For generations of children and adults alike, Ruth Park was a mainstay of Australia’s literary community. Ruth Park died on 14 December 2010, aged 93. With Michael Williams, acclaimed actor Anne Phelan and writer Lili Wilkinson discuss the legacy of her works including Playing Beattie Bow, The Harp in the South, and the much-loved The Muddle-Headed Wombat.
Phelan recounts her first encounters with Park’s writing — cast as Mumma Darcy in the television adaptation of The Harp in the South — and Park herself. With Sydney’s Surry Hills looming large in her stories, the three panellists discuss the power of that setting and the eccentrics who populate the suburb in Park’s depiction.
Wilkinson recalls the depth and feeling she found in the pages of The Harp in the South, Park’s “massive amount of respect for young people and the things that young people can achieve”, and her concern for the environment evident in My Sister Sif. The panellists also ponder the late writer’s capacity for both bleakness and humour, and the ways in which she endeared her work to young readers and adults alike.