21 December 2011

Investigating Arthur Upfield: A Centenary Collection of Critical Essays

Edited by Carol Hetherington and I, this book was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing last week.

Arthur Upfield first arrived in Australia from England on 4 November 1911, and this collection of twenty-two critical essays by academics and scholars has been published to celebrate the centenary of his arrival.

The essays, all written after Upfield’s death in 1964, provide a wide range of responses to his fiction. The contributors, from Australia, Europe and the United States, include journalist Pamela Ruskin who was Upfield’s agent for fifteen years, anthropologists, literary scholars, pioneers in the academic study of popular culture such as John G. Cawelti and Ray B. Browne, and novelists Tony Hillerman and Mudrooroo whose own works have been inspired by Upfield’s.

The collection sheds light on the extent and nature of critical responses to Upfield over time, demonstrates the type of recognition he has received and highlights the way in which different preoccupations and critical trends have dealt with his work. The essays provide the basis for an assessment of Upfield’s place not only in the international annals of crime fiction but also in the literary and cultural history of Australia.

“This book is an essential for Arthur Upfield fans. Edited by two leading Upfield scholars, it contains articles from the best in the field and celebrates Australia’s most widely read detective fiction author. A must-have for anyone interested in detective fiction.”

– Toni Johnson-Woods, President, Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand

“One of Australia’s most enduringly popular authors, Arthur W. Upfield also, in his creation of the Aboriginal detective Napoleon Bonaparte, started a discussion of race and representation in Australian fiction that persists to this day. This compilation, featuring scholars of distinction and range, will be the authoritative critical guide for all Upfield fans.”

– Nicholas Birns, the New School, New York

03 November 2011

Arthur Upfield - less than "twenty years in the Outback”

A very common misconception about Arthur Upfield is that he worked in the Australian Outback for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer. It's based on the facts that he first arrived in Australia in 2011 and began writing full-time in 1931 – twenty years later. The error is in overlooking the lengthy period between those dates that he did not work in the Outback.

Upfield first arrived in Adelaide on 4 November 1911, and worked there for some time before “going bush.” He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 22 August 1914, which would have been about two years and eight months later.

After serving in Australia, Egypt, France and England, Upfield was discharged on 15 October 1919. But he remained in England for another year before returning to Australia, arriving in January 1921. He then worked on his parents-in-law’s farm at Barrakee in western Victoria and in a Melbourne factory for some time before "going bush" again. He left the bush in mid 1931, about ten years and six months later.

So he worked in the Outback for a total of about thirteen years, seven years less than the commonly believed twenty years.

20 October 2011

An Upfield Manuscript Mystery

When Arthur Upfield passed away in 1964, in his archive was “an octavo notebook, lacking the front cover, held together with a brass pin ... similar in size and style to a policemen’s notebook”. It contains a “[manuscript] transcript (handwritten) by Arthur Upfield of an article about a murder committed near Mansfield, published in [t]he [A]rgus Thursday, 28th Feb. 1918.” (Notes to “A bush tragedy [bmanuscript]: headless body found: murder a possibility”, Melbourne University Library Catalogue.)

The notebook actually contains handwritten copies of eleven articles published in the Argus (Melbourne) newspaper from 28 February to 16 November 1918 about two murders it called the “Mount Howitt Tragedy”. I subsequently found another five Argus articles about it published in March 1918.

The sixteen articles report the discovery and the subsequent police investigations of the murders in 1918 of James Barclay, the manager of Wonnangatta Station in the East Gippsland highlands of Victoria, and his cook, John Balmford. Now known as the Wonnangatta mystery, it has never been solved. For more details an easy place to start is this Wikipedia page, which has references to many of the books written about it over the years.

When I first saw the catalogue entry in 2005, I misread it as meaning that Upfield had actually written the article, but that seemed most unlikely as he was in England with the Australian Imperial Force for the First World War at that time.

It also occurred to me that he may have found and kept the article with a view to using it as the basis for a story or a novel.

The answer is in a letter of 29 June 1934 to Charles Lemon in which Upfield wrote:

For a Sydney publisher who is bringing out a library of sixpenny booklets on the style of the American Blue Book, I have written one on Snowy Rowles and a corker on what was known as the Mount Howitt tragedy which was never cleared up back in 1918.
The booklet on Snowy Rowles is clearly The Murchison Murders by Arthur Upfield (Sydney: Midget Masterpieces Publishing, 1934), so the Sydney publisher would have been Bernard Cronin who died in 1968. His archives are in the National Library of Australia but do not include the manuscript.

In the The History of Wannangatta Station, Wallace Mortimer says one possible motive for Barlay’s murder came from a novelist “who had obviously done little or no research into the matter” (Richmond, Vic.: Spectrum Publications, 1980, 121). Mortimer, who was born in 1927, told me late in 2010 that the novelist was definitely not Arthur Upfield but a journalist.

A book called Who Killed Jim Barclay? by Wallace Mortimer was published in 2009 (Milawa, Vic: Wallace Mortimer). In it he claims to reveal “the killers, plural”. He may have solved the Wonnangatta mystery, but the whereabouts of Upfield’s manuscript, if it still exists, remains an unsolved mystery.

18 October 2011

Boney: Following the footsteps of a lost TV series - 2nd Edition

Boney - Following a lost TV series
The “Boney” TV series made in 1971 was inspired by Arthur Upfield's famous Bony crime detection novels set in the Australian outback. Yet despite worldwide acclaim it has never been shown in the United States.

This new edition of Roger Mitchell's book about the TV series is a brilliantly researched and beautifully illustrated PDF file that can be viewed on a computer - PC and Mac. It tells the fascinating stories of how Upfield created his half Aboriginal - half European Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, and how the Boney TV show was planned and filmed. It has new interviews with the producer, directors and controversial star - James Laurenson - and exclusive behind-the-scenes photos. It also contains articles on each Boney episode, biographies of the show's creators, details of the company’s other series, a Press section, an overview of each Bony novel.

The files are on a disc that can be read on a PC or Mac computer screen. Instructions in Word are included on the disc.

Email frayncd@hotmail.com if you have a question, or to simply get a copy for US$20.00 with free shipping. Pay by cash or credit through Paypal (account name is vzd963@hotmail.com).

10 July 2011

Chronology of Bony's cases revisited

As the author of When Bony Was There: A Chronology of the Life and Career of Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, I was interested to compare my conclusions of the dates - especially the years - for each of Bony's "documented cases" with those of Michael Duke in his biography of Bony, Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte: His Life and Times. As a result I changed my conclusions for 3 cases. I now agree with Duke in 23 cases (although for the same or similar reasons in only 14 cases); and I disagree in 6 cases.

The current status for each of the 29 cases is summarised immediately below. Asterisks (*) indicate those I changed, and question marks (?) identify those Duke seemed inclined to agree with but without reaching a conclusion.

My reasons for changing decisions and disagreeing with Duke are set out further below. The references to Lindsey are Lindsey, Travis B. Arthur William Upfield: A Biography (Thesis: Murdoch University, West Australia), 2005.

The Sands of Windee - agree 1924 - same reasons
The Barrakee Mystery - agree 1927 - different reasons
Mr Jelly’s Secret - agree 1931 - different reasons
Wings Above the Diamentina - disagree - Kees 1934/Duke 1935
Winds of Evil - disagree - Kees 1936/Duke 1937
The Bone is Pointed - agree 1937 - similar reason
Mystery of Swordfish Reef - disagree - Kees 1939/Duke 1937
Bushranger of the Skies - agree 1939 - similar reasons
Death of a Swagman - agree 1944 - similar reasons?
The Devil’s Steps - agree 1945 - similar reasons
An Author Bites the Dust - agree 1947 - different reasons
The Mountains Have a Secret - agree 1947 - different reasons
The Widows of Broome - disagree - Kees 1949/Duke 1948
Cake in the Hatbox (Stones) - disagree - Kees 1949/Duke 1948
The Bachelors of Broken Hill - agree 1950 - similar reasons
The New Shoe - agree 1950 - different reasons
Venom House - agree 1950* - same reasons
Murder Must Wait - agree 1952 - different reasons
Death of a Lake - agree 1953 - similar reasons?
The Battling Prophet - agree 1954 - similar reasons
Bony Buys a Virgin - agree 1956 - similar reasons
Man of Two Tribes - disagree - Kees 1956/Duke 1954
Bony Buys a Woman (Bushman) - agree 1957- same reasons
Bony & the Mouse (Hangman) - agree 1958- different reasons
Bony & Kelly Gang (Smugglers) - agree 1959 - similar reasons
Bony & the White Savage - agree 1960 - similar reasons
Will of the Tribe - agree 1960* - different reasons
Madman’s Bend - agree 1961* - similar reasons
Lake Frome Monster - agree 1962 - different reasons

For Wings Above the Diamentina I had said Bony was there in 1934 because:
1. Ted Sharp had arrived 11 years earlier and it was not long before he was promoted to boss stockman which was when he inherited some money in 1928. The year could have been as early as 1928 and as late as 1934 if Sharp had been promoted after 4 years.
2. Charles Kane had eloped with his future wife in 1914. Muriel, their daughter who was found in the plane, may have been born as early as 1914, or as late as 1920 when her parents died. Dr Knowles estimated her age to be between 20 and 25 years, suggesting the year was as early as 1934 or as late as 1945.
3. Dr Knowles was 38 years old and was in his third year of medical studies when his girlfriend died in 1915. If he had been 19 in 1915, then 19 years later was 1934; if he had been older in 1915, the year would have been before 1915.
4. Upfield began writing this novel in October 1934, and had finished it by September 1935.

Duke agreed Upfield began writing the story in 1934, and had completed it by September 1935. However “[t]here are problems with the year ... Ted Sharp came into a small fortune in 1928 but then joined the staff at Coolibah ... [H]e is said to have been there for 11 years. This brings us to 1939, but this is after the publication date. Overall, the year has to be 1935.”

I agreed the year could have been 1935 on the available evidence. Duke’s choice appears to have been influenced by finding Ted Sharp joined the staff at Coolibah after he came into a small fortune in 1928. My Angus & Robertson 1936 (1940 reprint) edition states: “Ted Sharpe had arrived ... 11 years before and ... it was not long before he was promoted as boss stockman” (p1); “[H]e came into a small fortune in 1928. That year he was employed here as boss stockman” (p157). That is, he arrived some time before he received the inheritance in 1928, so the year was less than 11 years after he was promoted and, perhaps, even less after he received the inheritance.

I agree with Duke that Upfield’s usual practice was to set the story at the time of writing, and certainly not in the future. My preference for 1934 is consistent with that. It is also supported by my points 2 and 3 above.

For Winds of Evil I had said Bony was there in 1936 because:
1. Martin Borrodale was born in January 1910 and was 27 years of age when the story began [in October], which suggests the year was 1937 but could have been 1936 [as it was only three months before his 27th birthday].
2. Dr Tigue had fallen mortally ill early in 1922 and his replacement had been in Carie for 14 years, suggesting the year was 1936 but it could have been later.
3. If the year was 1937 the dates would overlap with the dates of The Bone is Pointed.

Duke said the story was [first] published as a book in 1937. According to Lindsey, Upfield began the novel in 1935, although I (Kees de Hoog) say 1936 citing letters [from Upfield] to Charles Lemon. It was serialised in The Australian Journal (TAJ) from March 1935 which would make it earlier. However, Martin Borrodale was born in January 1910 and is said to be 27 at the time of the story. Hence the date of the story should be 1937.

Lindsey at p139 does say it was serialised in the TAJ from March 1935, but that was clearly an error; p137 he indicates it was 1937. An editorial titled “In Passing” of TAJ of 1 March 1937 says the serial commenced in that edition.

I was not able to find any suggestion in Lindsey that Upfield commenced writing it in 1935, and Duke did not provide a reference for it. In a letter to Charles Lemon of 10/10/1936 Upfield said, after talking about Wings Above the Diamentina, he was “presently typing another Bony story”, suggesting this story was written in 1936.

My conclusion is consistent with Upfield’s usual practice of setting the novel at the time it was written, particularly not in the future. It is also supported by my points 1 to 3 above.

For The Mystery of Swordfish Reef I said Bony was there in 1939 because:
1. According to Lindsey, Upfield began writing it in 1938 and had finished it by March 1939.
2. Joe Pearce said the biggest marlin was caught “back in thirty-seven”, namely 1937, and he probably would have said “last year” if it had been 1938.

Duke added that it was published in June 1939. The book was completed in February 1939 according to Lindsey, hence the story must be set a year or two previously. He leaned to towards 1937 or 1938. If Upfield’s writing time of eight months was average, then it should have been started about 1938, hence the events must be 1937.

The story is that some men and their boat disappeared in October one year, and Bony was there for ten days in January of the next year. I said Bony was there in 1939, so the men would have disappeared in 1938. Duke clearly understood that when considering 1937, 1938 and 139 as possibilities.

If, as asserted by Duke, Upfield’s average time of writing a novel was 8
 months, and he had finished it by February/March 1939, then he would have started writing about August/September 1938, and the story was would have been set during the period it was written in accordance Upfield’s usual practice. Duke does not explain why he thought the dates must be a year or 2 earlier, and I disagree.

I agree with Duke that The Widows of Broome immediately precedes Cake in the Hatbox, and are set in June-July and August respectively, so Bony was at both in the same year.

For The Widows of Broome I said Bony was there in 1949 because:
1. Sergeant Sawtell said Jean Eltham’s husband died during “the ‘47 pearling season”, which was from April to November each year, and he probably would have said something like “the last pearling season” if the present year was 1948.
2. This story was first published in early 1950, so it was probably written in 1949 soon after Upfield’s first visit to Broome in 1948.

Duke said the The Widows of Broome “was [first] published in January 1938. The case starts on 25th June (stated on p2 of my [Penguin 1962] edition.” He also said Cake in the Hatbox “starts on 17th August 1948 (p11 of my [Heinemann 1955] edition)”.

I am advised that page 2 in the Penguin 1962 edition of The Widows of Broome is blank; page 8, the 2nd page of text, does mention 25th June but does not mention 1948. Similarly, my copy of the Heinemann 1955 edition of Cake in the Hatbox mentions August 17th on p10, but there is no mention of 1948.

Upfield lead an expedition to the Kimberleys in 1948. According to a report in Walkabout of 1/10/1948, they left in June and, after driving 5,000 miles, reached Perth at the end of August, so he probably did not return home until mid-late September 1948. Lindsey at pp 192-3 suggests he did not commence writing The Widows of Broome before his return to work, and that it and the first version of Cake in the Hatbox had both been written by the middle of 1949.

Both 1948 and 1949 are possible. Upfield may have intended The Widows of Broome to be set during the period he was in the Kimberleys to celebrate his visit. On the other hand Cake in the Hatbox may have been finished as late as early August 1949, with Upfield’s usual practice setting the story at the time of writing. But the only “evidence” available is the reference to “the ‘47 pearling season” which suggests the year was 1949. I would not normally give such “evidence” a lot of weight, but without more it is determinative.

For Venom House I said Bony was there in 1951 because:

1. Albert Blaze had begun working for the Ainsworths in 1924, and was there when Jacob Ainsworth married his second wife. Deputy Coroner Harston estimated their son, Morris, to be 26 or 27 years old, which suggests the year was 1951 or later.
2. This novel was [first] published early in 1952, so Upfield probably wrote it in 1951.

Duke said it was published on 17 January 1952. It was being proof read (Lindsey p179) in New York by September 1951; thus it is set in mid-September 1950, given Upfield’s usual writing time of about 7 to 8 months.

The reference to p179 in Lindsey was a letter from an editor, not a proof reader, so publication was at a much earlier stage. Nevertheless, it does suggest Upfield had finished writing it by July or August 1951, possibly earlier. The story is set in September, and for the year to be 1951 would have been contrary his usual practice of setting it at the time of writing. The “evidence” about Morris’ age etc is imprecise, so I agree with Duke. The year was 1950.

Duke said The Man of Two Tribes was [first] published in April 1956, having arrived at the publisher Doubleday in September 1955. He says it is set in October (p9 of his [Penguin 1960] edition) and the year should be 1954 based on the date of receipt of the manuscript.

My copy of the Penguin 1960 (reprinted 1962) edition states at p81 in chapter 10, that it is 1956, and my Heinemann 1956 edition says the same thing at p75.

For The Will of the Tribe I said Bony was there in 1961 because:
1. Old Ted told Bony that he had seen a Buddha tattooed on a man’s chest in “June 1959”. If the year was 1960 he would probably have said “last year, so the year was 1961 or later.
2. Upfield finished writing the novel in 1961. [Lindsey at p244 suggests it was July or August.]

Duke said it was [first] published in 1962. The murder occurs about 27th April probably 1960 (p8 and p49 of his [Eden 1988] edition. Dating is again a problem. Old Ted says he saw a man with a Buddha tattoo in June of 1959, so the story should be after this. If the story is set in 1960, that fits with Lindsey’s statement at p243 that Upfield started writing it in April 1961.

I have not been able to find that statement by Lindsey at p243. Nevertheless, I agree with the conclusion because Bony was there from 7 to 15 August; on those dates in 1961 he was investigating crimes in western New South Wales, (The Body at Madman’s Bend); and on those dates in 1962 he was working on the Dog-proof Fence on the New South Wales - South Australia border (The Lake Frome Monster).

For The Body at Madman’s Bend I said Bony was there in 1963 because:
1. Ray Cosgrove’s grandfather had died in 1943. Ian MacCurdle had been sent to replace him, and had been in Australia for 20 years. This suggested the year was around 1963.
2. Bony was there from 19 July to early August, was at a meeting elsewhere on 1 July 1961 (The Will of the Tribe), and was working in the Dog-proof Fence on the New South Wales - South Australia border (The Lake Frome Monster) on some of those dates in 1962.

Duke said [the manuscript] was finished in August 1962, was [first] published in 1963, and the date for the story is probably 1961. William Lush’s father died in 1957; Lush came down from Cunnamulla after this, worked for Mrs Madden for a year, then was married for a year; this adds to the idea that the date for the story is about 1961.

It seems to me that Lush’s history simply suggests the year is later than 1959. Nevertheless I agree with Duke that Bony was there in 1961, not 1963. Lindsey at p248 indicates the story was accepted in autumn of 1962 for publication. That fits with Upfield writing the story in the latter half of 1961 and early 1962, and his usual practice of setting the story at the time of writing.

When doing the calculation for 1963 based on MacCurdle’s history, I assumed he had come from the UK to replace Ray Cosgrove’s grandfather, but there is no “evidence” to support that and he may have been in Australia for some time before going to Madman’s Bend.

I will publish a revised When Bony Was There: A Chronology of the Life and Career of Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte accordingly when time permits. As an interim measure I have created a page in the web site with an outline of my current chronology with locations for the Bony novels

A Royal Abduction republished

It is not well known that, in addition to the 29 Bony novels, Arthur Upfield wrote six novels without Bony. I republished one - Gripped by Drought - earlier this year. A Royal Abduction is another. It was also first published by Hutchinson & Co Ltd, UK in 1932. Copies of that edition are extremely rare and inaccessible to the average reader being mainly in university libraries and private collections.

It was republished without licence by Dennis McMillan Publications, USA in 1984. Only 400 copies were published, and they are hard to find and expensive. As I write this an AddAll book search found three copies, one for US$209 and the other two for US$400 each.

The story takes place in 1928. During a state visit to Australia, Her Royal Highness Princess Natalie, heiress to the throne of Rolandia in Europe, is abducted from the transcontinental train at Cook on the Nullarbor Plain by a gang lead by two American gangsters, Earle Lawrence and Van Horton. They hide her in caves near Eucla on the Great Australian Bight until the search is called off and ransom is arranged. Then two adventurers from Adelaide, Raymond Lund and William Snell, stumble across the abductors’ path and are forced join them in the caves.

I republished A Royal Abduction on 24 May this year. The cost of this new edition is US$44.95.

Copies are available online from my Arthur Upfield Bookshop.

05 March 2011

Gripped by Drought republished

It is not well known that, in addition to the 29 Bony novels, Arthur Upfield wrote six novels without Bony. One is Gripped by Drought, first published by Hutchinson & Co Ltd, UK in 1932. Copies of that edition are extremely rare and inaccessible to the average reader being mainly in university libraries and private collections.

It was republished without licence by Dennis McMillan Publications, USA in 1990. Only 450 copies were published, and they are hard to find and expensive. As I write this an AddAll book search found five copies with prices ranging from US$200 to US$650.

The story takes place in the early 1930s and is about Frank Mayne who owns an 800,000-acre sheep station in western New South Wales. On a visit to England he meets and marries Ethel. They then travel around the world for three years before going home to Australia in the first year of a drought. After two more years of drought and a failed marriage that spawns an orgy of entertainment and other costs, Frank faces ruin.

I republished Gripped by Drought with Lulu.com today. The cost of this new edition is US$42.95.

Copies are available online from my Arthur Upfield Bookshop.

18 February 2011

Paperback Firsts (Revised)

Quite a few people around the world collect the works of Arthur Upfield, particularly first editions of his novels. Some simply seek out world first editions for all countries in which they were published, all titles, etc. 

1949 Penguin UK
1965 Collier US
My main interest in Upfield’s works has been to republish his long “lost” short stories and non-Bony novels to make them accessible to enthusiasts and other people. I was surprised to read in the small print of a bibliography by David Blake in the November 2010 (and final) issue of the Book and Magazine Collector magazine that the US first edition of Bony and the Black Virgin was a 1965 Macmillan Collier paperback retitled The Torn Branch. While aware that paperbacks had “taken off” in the late 1930s, I had simply assumed that all first editions during Upfield’s time were hardbacks, and paperbacks were always later editions. However, Philp Asdell’s highly respected A Revised Descriptive Bibliography of First Editions of Arthur W. Upfield (1988) indicates the title of the 1965 Collier edition was Bony and the Black Virgin, and that is confirmed by its cover. The 1986 Macmillan Scribner edition appears to be the first edition retitled The Torn Branch.

1953 Invincible AU
1983 Pan AU
I also noticed and mentioned that three Australian first editions were softcovers, but when compiling the page of UK, Australian and US first editions for this site I noticed that most Australian first editions are paperbacks. In fact one UK, two US and nineteen Australian first editions are paperbacks. I’ve included copies of some of the front covers in this blog.

It’s equally interesting that two novels have never been published as books in the UK, two in the US, and five in Australia.

08 January 2011

Arthur Upfield's residence in Kalamunda - a minor mystery solved

The article below was previously published on a former ISP's website which has been removed so it is reproduced here.


In a footnote to "The Murchison Murders", The Bony Bulletin, 8 (January 1984) 4, Philip Asdell noted that "
in a recently published book called Dear Robertson, a collection of letters received by Mr. Robertson of [Angus & Robertson], there is one from Upfield written from "Rose Cottage", Kalamunda, Western Australia in August 1932. Similarly, I have seen an Upfield letter of 28 August 1932 to Verco Whyte written from "Rose Cottage", Kalamunda.

In "John K. Ewers and Arthur W. Upfield", The Bony Bulletin, 12 (February 1985) 5, Asdell wrote about Ewer's autobiography published in 1983:

Ewers . . . describes a visit on Guy Fawkes night of 1931 to Kalamunda, a suburb of Perth where Upfield and his first wife, Ann[e], had set up a Guest House (named "Rose Cottage") as his "literary ventures had not prospered since he came to the city." On that evening, Ewers goes on, . . . Arthur so far forgot himself as to abandon his usual cussedness and taciturnity.

Asdell made further inquiries when he visited Australia in 1985. In "Editor’s Notes", The Bony Bulletin, 13 & 14 (July 1985) 4 he reported:

In Kalamunda, a suburb of Perth, Mr. and Mrs. Eric Webb of the Kalamunda & Districts Historical Society had done some detective work in finding that Arthur Upfield and his family had once lived at 29 Heath Road. More than that, they had most kindly made arrangements with the present owner, Mr. John Bramley, for the three of us to visit the house. Over the years it has seen some additions, including some made since the Upfield family lived there in the early 1930s. All the changes have been documented in a fascinating architectural history of the house, complete with floor plans and photographs, prepared by Mrs. Georgina Noble, the immediate previous owner. The house struck me as a very comfortable one, and the floors and wall-panelling of native jarrah wood particularly appealed to this North American visitor. This house at 29 Heath Road, incidentally, was never known as "Rose Cottage" and was never a guesthouse, so Upfield's Kalamunda residence mentioned in previous issues of The Bony Bulletin [8 (January 1984) 2 and 12 (February 1985) 5] must have been elsewhere.

In "Upfield’s Correspondence with John K. Ewers, 1930 – 1942, Part 1", The Bony Bulletin 28 (May 1989) 3-4, Asdell wrote:

A month [after 21 July, 1931] Upfield had made the momentous decision to leave his job with the Rabbit Department and to try and make a living by writing. On 31 August, 1931 he wrote to Ewers to say that he and his wife had "thrown up our jobs and taken half a house at the above," which was 88 Vincent Street, Mt. Lawley, an inner northern suburb of Perth. . .

However, the Upfields did not stay long at Mt. Lawley. He found he couldn’t work there, apparently because of noisy surroundings, and so they moved in December 1931 to Kalamunda, then a village on the Darling escarpment, about nine miles east of Perth, but now a suburb of that city. . .

Things did not go well for the Upfields at Kalamunda. . . In an attempt to keep their heads above water they then planned to turn the "place" in Kalamunda into a guest house. Upfield wrote:

Where you could help would be in recommending the Upfield guest house to anyone you hear of coming to Kalamunda. . . We have no wireless yet but we have a tennis court, lawn in front and an old rambling garden.
I have not been able to identify the Upfield’s house in Kalamunda. None of his letters from there are headed with a street address and it was not until over a year later, on April 27, 1933, that a letter is headed "Dalcraig's", presumably the name the Upfields bestowed on their guest house. The house I visited in 1985 at 29 Heath Road [see The Bony Bulletin 13&14(July 1985) 4] which a previous owner claimed the Upfields had once occupied, was also said never to have been a guest house. So where they lived in Kalamunda is still a minor mystery.

Throughout 1932 the Upfields’ financial difficulties were mentioned in nearly every letter . . . Things looked up, temporarily, over Easter 1932 as Upfield wrote that all their rooms were filled.

Upfield is quoted later in the article as describing summer as the drought for the guest house.

I have also seen an Upfield letter of 21 April 1933 to Verco Whyte from "Dalcraigs", Kalamunda.

Finally, in Arthur William Upfield: A Biography, Internet, 2005, Travis Lindsey, who had also read Ewer's letters, wrote at p116:

The Kalamunda house – known as Dalcraig’s – was described by Upfield as one of the mint houses in the area, ‘quite unlike the ordinary, bare guest house. It should be attractive to people who like privacy and beautiful surroundings.’ . . . Eventually Easter [1932] arrived, the occupancies were splendid, the tennis court was under constant hire . . .


  • Post Office directories for Vincent St, Perth in 1931 and 1932 have no record for Upfield.
  • Post Office directories for Kalamunda for 1932 and 1933 had no entry for Upfield in 1932, and "Upfield, A W" in 1933.
  • Telephone Directories for Kalamunda: May & November 1932 have no entry for Upfield; May & November 1933 show "Upfield, A W, Heath Road, Ph 33".
  • Advertisement under "Holiday Resorts etc" reading: "KALAMUNDA: Mrs Upfield desires paying guests. Privacy, court, garden. Tel 33" in The West Australian on Saturdays 25 March, and 1 & 8 & 15 April 1933.
  • Advertisement under 'Holiday Resorts etc' reading: "KALAMUNDA: Dalcraig’s, opp. school, comfortable accommodation, gardens, court. Tel. 33. Upfield". in The West Australian on Saturdays 24 June, 1 & 8 July 1933.
  • Advertisement under "Holiday Resorts etc" reading, or similar: "KALAMUNDA: Dalcraig’s, opp. school, good accommodation, tennis, gardens, garage. "Phone 33, Upfield" in The West Australian on Saturdays 22 & 29 July, 5 & 12 & 26 August, and 2 September 1933.
  • No similar advertisements for 1932. 

Slee J & Shaw B, Cala Munda: a home in the forest: a history of Kalamuda, Kalamunda: Shire of Kalamunda, 1979 states at p184 that the Kalamunda Primary School was moved to its present (1979) site at Heath Road in 1925. The chapter titled "Schools" makes no mention of any other school in Heath Road at any time. There is no entry for Upfield in the index.

Ewers J K, Long enough for a joke: an autobiography, Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Press, 1983 mentions, at p147, visiting the Upfields at Kalamunda on Guy Fawkes night. The date, 1931, was not specified and my reading was that it happened later than 1931. The words "named 'Rose Cottage'" in brackets in the quotation above were not there (must have been inserted by Asdell), and there was no reference to "Rose Cottage" on that page or elsewhere in the book where Upfield was mentioned.

Road inspection of 29 Heath Road, Kalamunda, on 28 March 2008. Huge site facing north with No. 27 to east and No. 33 to west; house on east side of site and detached double garage on west side; large, pretty and old house, with weatherboard walls and corrugated iron roof; painted white with grey trim and silver roof; garage similar; house probably renovated and extended; very well maintained; pink/white roses in beds behind white picket fence with timber gateway. Size of block and street numbers suggest it occupies two blocks. Kalamunda Primary School opposite but buildings looked c1970 style.

88 Vincent Street, Mount Lawley in 2008.
Kalamunda History Village advised on 28 March 2008 that the original state school building in Heath Road was moved to their museum in 1970.


It is well established from other sources that Upfield moved to Perth in mid-1931 and left Western Australia for Melbourne in late August or September 1933, followed by his wife and son some months later. It is also accepted that they initially lived at 88 Vincent Street, Mt. Lawley until they moved to Kalamunda in December 1931.

Asdell was not satisfied that the house at 29 Heath Road he visited in 1985 was the Upfields' guest house because he was informed that it was never known as 'Rose Cottage' and it was never a guest house.

29 Heath Road, Kalamunda in 2008.

The three series of advertisements in The West Australian in 1933 are clearly all about the same property called "Dalcraig's" and all give the same telephone number as listed in the May and November 1933 telephone directories for Upfield in Heath Road. In addition, the descriptions of the property in those advertisements fit 29 Heath Road, namely being opposite a school and with a garden, and my inspection of the site revealed ample space for a tennis court. 29 Heath Road is consistent with Upfield's description, and my impression is that it would have been quite unlike the ordinary guest house. If 29 Heath Road was not a guest house when the Upfields moved there, and it ceased to be a guest house when, or soon after, they left, then it is not surprising that the later owners were unaware of it in 1985. The property called "Dalcraig's" in 1933 was clearly 29 Heath Road.

Similarly, the description of the property when Upfield informed Ewers of the guest house plans is also consistent with the advertisements in 1933, namely the references to tennis court and garden (suggesting a large site). I would expect Upfield to have mentioned moving to another house in his letters to Ewers, but he did not. Indeed there is no real evidence that the Upfields lived in more than one house in Kalamunda – only an inference based on two different house names. I suspect the Upfields initially named the house at 29 Heath Road as "Rose Cottage" and later changed it to "Dalcraig's". That would explain the different addresses on the letters in August 1932 and April 1933, and why the later owners were unaware of the "Rose Cottage" name in 1985. (It is nothing more than speculation to suggest that the profusion of roses I saw there 76 years later may be more than coincidence and connected with the first name.)

Finally, Guy Fawkes Night is 5 November every year. Ewer's visit to the Upfields in Kalamunda on that day must have been in 1932 as the Upfields did not move there until December 1931 and Upfield had gone to Melbourne before 5 November 1933.


The Upfields lived in only one house in Kalamunda from December 1931 until about the end of 1933, which was at 29 Heath Road.

© Kees de Hoog
29 March 2008

PS. In October 2009 I received an email from Georgina Noble which said:

I am a previous owner of 29 Heath Road and the author of the architectural research project on the house.

I read your article about the search for Arthur Upfield's residence in Kalamunda, and thought I could add some information. The photograph of the house shows the most recent changes. When I lived in it it was hidden behind trees and there were no roses at all. However, my research included meetings with a family who first extended the house giving it its symmetrical front [and added the tennis court]. When they bought it, it was a small cottage. So maybe it was called 'Rose Cottage', and somehow that 'rings a bell', but I cannot be sure of that.

There definitely was a tennis court, where the current double garage is. The house to the immediate left (if you are facing the house) was built whilst I lived there, the land was subdivided and sold by the owners directly before me, and I think that other subdivisions had been made earlier at the rear. So it was a considerable piece of land.

I also seem to recall that he didn't own it, but only rented. Ownership certainly can be checked. I must have done that at the time. I certainly do not recall his name on any documents. I think it must have been the Historical Society people who told me he lived there.