R.I.P. Tom Hungerford

T.A.G. (Thomas Arthur Guy) Hungerford died in his sleep this morning at the age of 96 with family by his side. Tom was the author of Fremantle Press books Wong Chu and the Queen’s Letterbox and other stories, Stories from the Suburban Road, Knockabout with a Slouch Hat, Red Rover All Over and his collected works Straightshooter. The T.A.G. Hungerford Award for debut authors was named in his honour.

Close friend of the author and Fremantle Press Sales Manager, Clive Newman, said Tom Hungerford was one of the early success stories for the Press and he was saddened by the news of the author’s death.

“When the first volume in his autobiographical trilogy, Stories from Suburban Road, became a national bestseller, I remember the author’s excitement at the news of his book going into reprint after reprint,” said Newman.

Newman said Tom had a long and lasting association with Fremantle Press, which found expression in his enthusiasm for the literary award bearing his name.

“He loved the thought that he was helping recognise new and emerging writers such as Gail Jones and Alice Nelson and he enjoyed reading the winning books,” said Newman.

Wendy Jenkins, writer and Fremantle Press editor, said Hungerford was a significant Western Australian writer who was very supportive of younger authors.

“He once said to me at a young age ‘You’ve got it Jenkins’ and that meant a great deal to me at the time,” said Jenkins.

“His stories evoked what it was like to be a child between the wars – they were very rich in detail and captured the spirit of the time in a way that will endure,” said Jenkins.

Hungerford was a soldier who served in World War II before travelling to Japan with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force after the war. In 1948 he moved to Canberra where he worked for the Australian War Memorial and began to write. He is the author of four major novels and numerous poems but is perhaps best known for his short stories. He received an Order of Australia for services to Australian Literature in 1987 and the Patrick White Award in 2002.

Staff at Fremantle Press wish to extend their condolences to his family and friends.

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