Webb’s Hope of Deliverance – Justifies its Existence

cathy weiszman - AD HopeBust of poet A.C. Hope by Cathy Webb, Garema Place, Canberra, Australia (2012).

Alec Derwent Hope AC OBE (21 July 1907 –13 July 2000) was an Australian poet and essayist known for his satirical slant. He was also a critic, teacher and academic.

Hope was born in Cooma, New South Wales, and educated partly at home and in Tasmania. He attended Fort Street Boys High School, Sydney University, and then the University of Oxford on a scholarship. Returning to Australia in 1931 he then trained as a teacher, and spent some time drifting.

He worked as a psychologist with the New South Wales Department of Labour and Industry, and as a lecturer in Education and English at Sydney Teachers College (1937–44). He was a lecturer at the University of Melbourne from 1945 to 1950, and in 1951 became the first professor of English at the newly founded Canberra University College, later of the Australian National University (ANU) when the two institutions merged, a chair he held until retiring in 1968.

Although he was published as a poet while still young, The Wandering Islands (1955) was his first collection and all that remained of his early work after most of his manuscripts were destroyed in a fire. Its publication was delayed by concern about the effects of Hope’s highly-erotic and savagely-satirical verse on the Australian public.

From 1968, Hope was appointed Emeritus Professor at the ANU. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1972 and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1981 and awarded many other honours. He died aged 93, in Canberra, on 13 July, 2000; having suffered dementia in his last years. He is buried at the Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery.

When Hope was once asked what poets do for Australia, he replied;  “They justify its existence”.

About the Sculptor – Cathy Webb:

  • St Joseph & Baby Jesus, life-sized bronze at St Joseph’s Church, Moorebank, Sydney (2012).
  • “Poet’s Corner”, Busts of Judith Wright, David Campbell, and A.D. Hope, (see above) Garema Place, Canberra City (2012).
  • Blake Prize Finalist, Sir Herman Black Gallery, University of Sydney (2005).
  • Giant’s Creek Art Prize, Sculpture Section, Highly Recommended (1997).
  • Waverley Art Prize, Sydney Winner Sculpture Section (1996)
  • Dip. Fine Art, National Art School, Sydney (1995).
  • Technical Assistant, Sculpture Department, National Art School, Sydney (1990-1994).

You can visit more of Cathy Webb’s work at her website.

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