George Johnston, Fleet Street, London

David Moorec. 1952 (printed 2000)

National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery
Canberra, Australia

George Johnston (1912-1970), writer, joined the Melbourne Argus as a cadet reporter and became its war correspondent during World War II. He married, and had a daughter, but in 1946 he began an affair with a colleague, the writer Charmian Clift. They were both sacked, and Johnston joined the Sydney Sun, publishing two novels in 1948. The couple moved to London, then Greece, where he wrote the semi-autobiographical My Brother Jack (1964). When the family returned to Australia, he wrote its sequel, Clean Straw for Nothing (1969). Both novels won the Miles Franklin Award. He began work on the final volume of the projected trilogy, but he had twice undergone lung surgery, and in July 1969 Clift committed suicide (three of Johnston's children were also to die prematurely). Johnston died the following year. The incomplete third volume, A Cartload of Clay, was published posthumously in 1971.


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