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Waten, Judah / Papers (National Library of Aus.)

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Biographical Note


Biographical Note

Judah Leon Waten was born in Odessa, Russia on 29 July 1911 of Russian-Jewish parents. He came to Western Australia with his parents in 1914. He was educated at Christian Brothers' College, Perth, and University High School, Melbourne after his family moved to Melbourne in 1926. Waten remained in Melbourne for the remainder of his life except when travelling in other parts of Australia, England and Europe.

Waten's first significant literary success was the appearance of a short story in the 1946 Coast to coast collection of Australian short stories. This was the first of his series of works about Jewish migrant life in Australia. Waten published seven novels, a play, a film script, a book of short stories, a short history of the 1930s in Australia and a semi-autobiographical travel book. He also published many short stories and articles which appeared in magazines and anthologies in Australia and overseas.

Waten was prominent in many Australian literary organisations including the Realist Writers group, P.E.N. and the Fellowship of Australian Writers and was closely involved with overseas writers groups especially in the U.S.S.R. In 1952, 1970 and 1975 he was awarded Commonwealth Literary Fellowships. The earlier grant was surrounded by political controversy arising from his membership of the Communist Party of Australia. In 1973-74 he was a member of the Literature Board of the Australian Council. Waten often contributed articles and reviews to Australian and overseas newspapers and lectures on Australian literature and political and cultural issues.

Waten married Hyrell McKinnon and had one daughter, Alice ("Pip"). He died in Melbourne on 29 July 1985.


  Scope and Content  [Table of Contents]   Administrative Information