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Up From Down Under May 2008

Modern Australian Writers


Don Watson



"I grew up on a farm of a hundred and forty acres. Steep hills infested with bracken, rabbits, blackberries, thistles, ragwort and cows," said Dr Don Watson in THE 2003 NATIONAL TRUST HERITAGE LECTURE.1


Born in 1949, near Warragul in Victoria, Don Watson is now recognised as one of the most prolific and dynamic writers in Australia. He graduated with a PhD from Monash University in 1977 and worked for ten years as an academic historian.


After leaving academia, he wrote political satire, speeches for Premiers and Prime Ministers, film scripts and the odd novel or two. In what may be called his 'spare time' he has written columns, articles and essays for every major Australian journal and newspaper.


How he fitted in the co-authoring of the Billy Connolly film, The Man Who Sued God, and participated in the initial planning of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, beggars belief.


Don Watson obviously enjoys writing – all aspects of it! - from political commentary to humour.


His book, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime Minister, published in 2002 became a best-seller. However, it wasn't a biography, but has been described as "… a vehicle for Watson to display his considerable narrative and descriptive talents."2 It won several major awards across Australia.


In 2003, he rode his hobby-horse of jargon-hating to produce another best seller, Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language. That was followed by: Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words, contemporary Clichés, Cant & Management Jargon.


2007 saw the release of his travel book, American Journeys, reflecting on his experiences and impressions of five months and 43,200 kilometres travelled in the USA


Dr Don Watson now lives in Melbourne. We have undoubtedly not seen or heard the last word from him.




2        Carmen Lawrence, Evatt Foundation.