Fremantle Press honours Bruce Bennett
Fremantle Press and Australian literature lost a champion and great friend with the passing of Professor Bruce Bennett on 14 April. Bruce was a founding member of the Fremantle Press board and passionate supporter of our program from its inception.
His publications with us began in 1976 with his editorship of New Country; a selection of Western Australian short fiction. This book, together with Soundings, a selection of Western Australian poetry edited by Veronica Brady, introduced our program and signaled our commitment to Western Australian and regional writing. Bruce shared this commitment and his strong interest in the literature of place informed his influential and pioneering book An Australian Compass; Essays on Place and Direction in Australian Literature which we published in 1991. It also extended to the literatures of other places and cultures, and as a scholar, teacher, writer and long-time editor of Westerly, Bruce did much to support and nurture connections with the Indian Ocean region and the Asia-Pacific. He was awarded an AO for services to education and Australian literature in 1993 and appointed to the Australia-India Council in 2002.
While he had a commanding presence as a scholar and intellectual, Bruce was an unassuming and genial man, a good bloke, who encouraged individual writers, and talent where he found it. He will be missed by those of us at the Press who knew him.