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This interview is taken from PN Review 180, Volume 34 Number 4, March - April 2008.

In Conversation with Les Murray Pauline Smith

Les Murray was born in Nabiac, New South Wales in 1938, and brought up in nearby Bunyah within a poor farming family of Scottish origin. In the first interview, I asked him what it was like to be an only child in the Murray household and how his upbringing had affected him.

LES MURRAY: The Murrays were and are a large family; I was aware of hundreds of cousins, uncles, aunts and other relations, but I saw most of them only sporadically until I was nine years old. My mother's people were more of a rarity in my life. After her death when I was twelve, they gradually grew away from my father and me. When I was born, my mother was 23 years old, my father 29. My mother had her nursing qualifications and had worked in a couple of Newcastle hospitals; my father was a dairy farmer.

My first lessons were by correspondence, at home. I could get through a week of those in a day and have the other six days free. I began attending school at the age of nine, at a one-teacher bush school called Bulby Brush Public, three miles' walk from home. I then boarded briefly in my first high school year, but this came to an end when my mother died, and I took up lessons again only in my second year, at a nice barefoot Central School in Nabiac. I boarded again in the ...


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