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Noel Wilson Norman: a Biography

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Noel Wilson Norman (1901-1981) was a Tasmanian author.

Early life

Noel Wilson Norman was born in Claremont on 14 July 1901. He ran away from home at 13 and worked on a farm in Hagley for a time. He then travelled to Western Australia, where he worked as a stockman and drover.

In 1918, Noel lied about his age and enlisted to fight in World War One. His real age was eventually discovered, and he was discharged. He subsequently worked as an insurance agent, but was reported to be living poor in Melbourne by 1922. His father had to pay for him to return home to Tasmania.


Once back in Tasmania, Noel quickly achieved notable popular and financial success by writing short stories under various pseudonyms. One of his brothers remembered that, in the early-1930s, the Saturday Evening Post paid Noel $1,500 for a story.

Noel’s stories were published in various newspapers and journals in Britain, the United States, and Canada.

He published thirteen novels between 1931 and 1938 under the pseudonym ‘Louis Kaye’. All the books displayed the imaginative importance of Australia’s interior.

Aboriginals also occupied a central place in Noel’s work.

Once he was financially secure, Norman gradually stopped writing and started developing real estate in southern Tasmania.

His stories and novels gradually fell into obscurity.

Later life and death

On 4 July 1962, Noel married a German-born clerk named Ursula Valeske Dambergs Wehlfeldt in Hobart. They did not have any children together.

Noel was moved into a nursing home after suffering a stroke in the early-1970s. He passed away on 19 April 1981.

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A short excerpt from Tybal Men, the 1935 novel of ‘Louis Kaye’

Not the light of dawn, nor the arrogant crow of a cock, nor the shrill command of an alarm bell wakened Alan Maclean, but the knowledge, subconsciously with him while he slumbered, that he must wake at this early hour.

He stirred in his bed; reaching for matches to light the candle by the bedside table. When the wick flared up he shielded its glare with his hand from the face of the sleeping woman at his side, for he knew her hate of the small dark: hours when the menfolk rose and the life and labor of the land took up its daily routine. And this morning it was very early.

A glance at the watch lying face up by the candlestick showed the time to be half-past three. An hour or more off dawn — the dawn of a dusty summer, day that would, sweep the country like a great hot breath, parching the soil and all that grew from the soil, and giving birth to little truant winds that would dance spirals of dust across the sun-smitten land.

Alan Maclean drew himself from his bed, careful of the sleeping woman, and began to dress. He didn’t wear his heavy boots in the room, but held them in his hand, intending to creep out on socked feet. But for a moment he paused, gazing at his wife, the candlelight on her cheeks, and throwing shadows over her eyes. She stirred slightly, but did not waken. Her dark hair seemed darker still against the whiteness of the pillow. Her face was pale in the darkness of her hair, and one white arm lay on top of the bedclothes, bent at the elbow, and with the hand near her breast.

She was a lovely creature as she lay sleeping. Now there was no pettiness nor fretfulness of spirit showing itself in her face, and marring the beauty of that face.

Alan Maclean felt a sudden tenderness, a faint recrudescence of the emotions he had known in the beginning of things, when they two first met and loved and married all within a few brief weeks.

He bent and kissed her — and she wakened and the beauty went from her face.

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“Can’t you get up without waking me?” she demanded querously.

“Sorry. You weren’t sleeping very soundly.”

“What time is it?”

“Half-past three.”

“Lord! The middle of the night almost! Did you have to get up this early?”

“I’ve got sixty -miles to travel before the sale.”

“Don Mac and Vivian are there, aren’t they? I don’t know what difference it makes whether you’re at the sale early or not. The sheep’ll sell no better.”

“No,” he admitted wearily, “they mightn’t sell any better.”

Source: Tasmanian Times

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