Cape to publish White's Happy Valley

Cape to publish White's Happy Valley

Jonathan Cape is publishing Patrick White's Happy Valley, the first time it has been published in the UK for more than 70 years.

The Random House imprint will publish on 1st November in hardback, with Text Classics publishing in Australia in September as part of the centenary year of White's birth.

White's first novel was originally published in London in 1939, and won the Australian Society of Literature's gold medal in 1941. However, White was concerned that a Chinese family whose story he had appropriated for the novel would sue for defamation, and did not allow it to be published in English again during his lifetime.

The book is set in a village in the high country south of Canberra, and draws on White's experiences as a jackaroo in the early 1930s. The publisher describes it as "a restless and jagged study of small-town life", and "the missing piece in the jigsaw of White's work".

Publisher Dan Franklin, who acquired UK and Commonwealth rights through Text Classics in the title, said: “It’s an extraordinary book. Reading it, you can’t see why [White was worried about defamation]. The particular Chinese family aren’t treated any worse than anybody else in the book.”  

White's other works include Voss, The Vivisector and Riders in the Chariot, which will all be published in the Vintage Classics livery in March 2013. Jonathan Cape published The Hanging Garden, White's unfinished novel, in April this year.

White was born in England in 1912 to Australian parents, who took him back there when he was six months old. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1973. White died in 1990.