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Julian Randolph Stow (28 November 1935 – 29 May 2010) was an Australian-born writer, novelist and poet.

Randolph Stow
BornJulian Randolph Stow
(1935-11-28)28 November 1935
Geraldton, Western Australia
Died29 May 2010(2010-05-29) (aged 74)
Harwich, Essex, England, United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Western Australia
Notable worksTo the Islands (1958);
Tourmaline (1963);
The Merry‑Go‑Round in the Sea (1965)
Notable awardsMiles Franklin Award (1958)
Patrick White Award (1979)

Early lifeEdit

Born in Geraldton, Western Australia, Randolph Stow was the son of Mary Campbell Stow née Sewell and Cedric Ernest Stow, a lawyer.[1]

Stow attended Geraldton Primary and High schools, Guildford Grammar School, the University of Western Australia, and the University of Sydney. During his undergraduate years in Western Australia he wrote two novels and a collection of poetry, which were published in London by Macdonald & Co. He taught English Literature at the University of Adelaide, the University of Western Australia and the University of Leeds.


He also worked on an Aboriginal mission in the Kimberley, which he used as background for his third novel To the Islands. Stow further worked as an assistant to an anthropologist, Charles Julius, and cadet patrol officer in the Trobriand Islands. In the Trobriands he suffered a mental and physical breakdown that led to his repatriation to Australia. Twenty years later, he used these last experiences in his novel Visitants.

Stow first visited England in 1960 and lived there for a few years, although he returned several times to Australia. Tourmaline, his fourth novel, was completed in 1962 while he taught in Leeds. In 1964 and 1965 he travelled in North America on a Harkness Fellowship, including a sojourn in Aztec, New Mexico, during which he wrote one of his best known novels, The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea. While living in Perth (WA) in 1966 he wrote his popular children's book Midnite.

From 1969 to 1981 he lived at East Bergholt in Suffolk in England, his ancestral county, and he used traditional tales from that area to inform his novel The Girl Green as Elderflower. The last decades of his life he spent in nearby Harwich, the setting for his final novel The Suburbs of Hell. He last visited Australia in 1974.

Stow died in England 29 May 2010 of a pulmonary embolism after being diagnosed with liver cancer at the age of 74.[2]

Awards and legacyEdit

His novel To the Islands won the Miles Franklin Award for 1958.[3] He was awarded the Patrick White Award in 1979. As well as producing fiction, poetry, and numerous book reviews for The Times Literary Supplement, he also wrote libretti for musical theatre works by Peter Maxwell Davies.

A considerable number of Randolph Stow's poems are listed in the State Library of Western Australia online catalogue[4] with indications where they have been anthologised.

Personal life & familyEdit

Julian Randolph Stow's paternal grandfather was Francis Leslie Stow, a Crown Solicitor of Western Australia.[5] Stow's great-grandfather was Randolph Isham Stow, a Supreme Court judge and Attorney General of South Australia; a great-great-uncle, Jefferson Stow was prominent as an explorer of northern Australia, and Stow's great-great-grandfather, the Rev. Thomas Quinton Stow, was a pioneering Congregational minister in South Australia.[1]

A deeply private person, Stow's life was dogged at times by loneliness and depression (including two suicide attempts), probable alcoholism, an addiction to prescription drugs, and a struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality in a time when it was oppressed.[6][7][8]

Awards listEdit

Selected worksEdit




  • Midnite: The Story of a Wild Colonial Boy 1967

Musical TheatreEdit


  1. ^ a b c [ AustLit, 2016, Randolph Stow (23 September 2018).
  2. ^ The Australian, 31 May 2010 Archived 14 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Suzie Gibson. The Case for Randolph Stow's To the Islands. The Conversation, 24 June 2014.
  4. ^ Catalogue: State Library of WA & WA Health Libraries Network
  5. ^ The West Australian, 15 May 1935 p. 12.
  6. ^ "Phillip Hall Reviews Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow". Cordite Poetry Review. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  7. ^ "The private letters of poets". Overland literary journal. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Randolph Stow's farewell to Australia for a life of self-exile". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Past winners". Miles Franklin Literary Award. Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ "Randolph Stow Young Writers Award". City of Greater Geraldton Regional Library. Archived from the original on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)


  • Cary, Gabrielle Moving Among Strangers: Randolph Stow and My Family, University of Queensland Press, 2014
  • Falkiner, Suzanne Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow, University of Western Australia Press, 2016

External linksEdit