Ruth Park is an author born in Auckland, New Zealand, who spent most of her life in Australia. She was born on 24 August 1923[1] in Auckland, and her family later moved to Te Kuiti further south in the North Island of New Zealand, where they lived in isolated areas.[1]

Personal historyEdit

During the Great Depression her working class father worked on bush roads, as a driver, on relief work, as a sawmill hand, and finally shifted back to Auckland as council worker living in a state house. After Catholic primary school Ruth won a partial scholarship to secondary school, but this was broken by periods of being unable to afford to attend. For a time she stayed with relatives on a Coromandel farming estate where she was treated like a serf by the wealthy landowner until she told the rich woman what she really thought of her. (Apparently the woman asked Ruth what she wanted to be when she grew up. When she was told a writer, the woman suggested she'd be happier as a servant.) Ruth Park claims that she was involved in the Queen Street riots with her father. Later she worked at the Auckland Star before shifting to Australia in 1942. There she married the Australian writer D'Arcy Niland.

Her first novel was The Harp in the South (1948) - a story of Irish slum life in Sydney, which was translated into 10 languages. (Simple-minded critics called it a cruel fantasy because as far as they were concerned there were no slums in Sydney.) But Ruth and D'Arcy did live in Sydney slums at Surry Hills. She followed that up with Poor Man's Orange (1949). She knew hers was the Poorman's orange: pale skin, not as sweet. She also wrote Missus (1985) and other novels, as well as a long-running Australian children's radio show and scripts for film and TV. She created the Muddle Headed Wombat series of children's books. Her autobiographies are A Fence Around the Cuckoo (1992) and Fishing in the Styx (1993). She also wrote a novel based in New Zealand, One-a-pecker, Two-a-pecker (1957), about gold mining in Otago (later renamed The Frost and The Fire).

Parks has received awards in Australian and internationally[2] but she has not yet received wide-spread recognition in New Zealand.

She claims to be a descendant of Dr Mungo Park, the African explorer, though there is yet to be any evidence of this.

Apart from her writing she also brought up 5 children. Her two youngest, Kilmeny and Deborah Niland, are both successful Australian artists.




Children's booksEdit


See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 Ruth Park Biography. Austlit Agent Details. Retrieved on 2007-08-01.
  2. Ruth Park: A Celebration. National Library of Australia. Retrieved on 2007-08-01.
  3. Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, Winners and Honor Books 1967 to present. The Horn Book Inc.. Retrieved on 2007-08-01.
  4. Its an Honour. Retrieved on 2007-08-01.
  5. The 100 most influential Australians. The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 June 2006. Retrieved on 2007-08-01.


External linksEdit

NAME Park, Ruth
DATE OF BIRTH 24 Aug 1923
PLACE OF BIRTH Auckland, New Zealand

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