Biographical entry: Porter, Hal (1911 - 1984)



Hal Porter, author, took a position as Senior English Master at Hutchins School, Hobart, in 1946. He frequented the back bar of Hadley's Hotel with the muster of local literati, produced the school play and was dismissed within the year. The circumstances were contentious, and aggravated by Porter's decision to stay in Hobart, coaching matriculation students and directing Hamlet at the Theatre Royal. He returned between 1951 and 1953, conflating the two stays in his second autobiographical volume, The paper chase (1966). There he declared 'I drift in the direction of scandal by easy stages'. Literary issues of his Tasmanian sojourn were the play The tower (1963) and an historical novel, The tilted cross (1961), based on the convict poisoner Wainewright. In the latter, which Porter regarded as his best work to that time, Van Diemen's Land is sourly hailed as 'an ugly trinket suspended at the world's discredited rump'.

Peter Pierce

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