18 Dec 2010

Death of author Ruth Park

5:36 pm on 18 December 2010

A private funeral was held for author Ruth Park in Sydney on Friday.

Park, 93, died in her sleep at a nursing home on Tuesday.

Born in New Zealand, she was the author of The Harp In The South, (1948), depicting the bleak lives of slum-dwellers in Surry Hills, and a sequel, Poor Man's Orange.

The ABC reports The Harp In The South caused a stir when it was first published. It went on to be translated into 37 languages and was adapted into a television series in the late 1980s.

Park was married to the late Darcy Niland, author of The Shiralee. Their 25-year marriage ended in his death in 1967.

Other novels by Ruth Park included the Crowns And Rings which won the Miles Franklin Prize in 1977.

Her two dozen children's books, including The Muddleheaded Wombat and Playing Beatie Bow, were as popular as her books for adults.

Penguin Children's Books says the latter title was the company's highest selling children's book in Australia. She also wrote plays and short stories for children.

Biographer Joy Hooton says Park wrote lots of marvellous stuff for young children, but also interestingly wonderful material for teenage children - (she) had a great empathy with adolescents.

I think she was constantly drawing on her own New Zealand childhood.

Park was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987.