Ivan Southall Ash Road
Simon Black in the Antarctic Simon Black and the Spacemen

One of Australia’s best-loved authors, Ivan Southall, born June 8, 1921, wrote his first book at the age of 14. His early works were aimed at adult audiences, but he soon moved into a new realm, publishing his first children’s novel, Hills End, in 1962. Not all of his work was readily accepted in his native country, and work like Finn’s Folly was published first overseas.

Thanks to the pen of Ivan Southall, the character of Simon Black became an icon of his own series from 1950-1961, and the book Let the Balloon Go (1968) was brought to the big screen in 1975.

Southall was particularly interested in the inner thoughts and viewpoints of his characters: “I haven’t an impeccable memory for events, but the way I felt as a kid, the excitement of each new day, has fortunately stayed with me. This I can recall with clarity.”

He said that a novelist: “if he is worth his salt as a writer… asks every relevant question of himself during the process of forming the book and once it is formed the problem belongs to the reader. The book itself is the answer to all questions and as that it should stand without propping up.”

Southall died November 15, 2008.


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