Gough, Sue 1940-

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GOUGH, Sue 1940-

PERSONAL: Born April 4, 1940, in London, England; daughter of Siegfried Charles Fairbairn (an aeronautical engineer) and Nancy Eileen Ellis (a teacher); married David Kenneth Gough (a forester), August 2, 1974; children: Ceinwen Anne, Anthony David. Ethnicity: "British." Education: Attended high school in London, England. Religion: Buddhist.

ADDRESSES: Home—344 Savages Rd., Brookfield, Brisbane, Queensland 4069, Australia. Agent—Cameron Creswell, 61 Marlborough St., 7th Fl., Surry Hills, Sydney 2010, Australia. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Canberra Times, Canberra, Australia, arts writer, 1963–68; freelance writer and editor, 1968–. Jacaranda Press, editor, 1970–74; National Theatre Critic, 1984–98; Queensland State Library, board member; Australia Council for the Arts, member of Literature Board; Queensland Arts Council, affiliate; presenter of writers' workshops.

AWARDS, HONORS: Honour Book, Children's Book Council of Australia, 1993, for A Long Way to Tipperary, and 1994, for Wyrd.



A Long Way to Tipperary, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1992.

Wyrd, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1993.

Here Comes the Night, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1997.


Queensland Colonial Years, Hodder Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1984.

(With Dianne Weedon) Tears in My Champagne (biography), Champagne Publications (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), 1984.

The Book of Brisbane, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1985.

Sugar, Hodder Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1986.

Hard Times and High Hopes, Jacaranda Press (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), 1986.

Issues of Today: Conservation, Martin Educational (Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia), 1986.

Issues of Today: AIDS, Martin Educational (Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia), 1989.

Unique Mammals of Australia, Jacaranda Young Inquirers (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), 1990.

Creatures of the Antarctic, Jacaranda Press (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), 1992.

Big Beasts, Fact or Fiction, Jacaranda Press (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), 1992.

Keeping in Touch through Time, Jacaranda Press (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), 1992.

Thommo Makes His Mark, Jacaranda Press (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), 1992.

From Raw to Ready, Jacaranda Press (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), 1992.

Tell It in Print, Jacaranda Press (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), 1992.

The Daggs Meet the Bad Beasts, Rigby Zapper Books (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1993.

Punk Rocker from Hell, Rigby Zapper Books (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1993.

The Monster Manual, Rigby Zapper Books (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1995.

(Editor) Jan Power, Setting the Stage: Queensland Performing Arts Complex: The First Ten Years, Boolarong Press (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), 1995.

The Nether Regions (adult novel), Pan Macmillan (Sydney, Australia), 2001.

Food columnist, Brisbane Courier Mail. Contributor to periodicals.

ADAPTATIONS: "Coconut Ice" and "Scotch on the Rocks," 1970 episodes of the television series Barrier Reef, were based on story lines by Gough.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Death and Distraction (tentative title), an adult novel.

SIDELIGHTS: Sue Gough once told CA: "I spent a long time trudging along the trenches making a buck: ghostwriting, researching, and creating school textbooks, rewriting legal studies texts and economic studies texts, even writing corporate annual reports. And then, in 1990 at the age of fifty, I learned how to fly. I starting writing fiction.

"It came as a surprise that my first novel, A Long Way to Tipperary, was such a success. It is a historical romp set in 1918. The book is still in print and still being studied in English classes all over Australia. On the back cover of that book it says that my aim was to 'entertain, by which I mean amuse, excite, sadden, surprise, instruct, mystify, satisfy and, in the nicest way, subvert.' I guess you could say this is the philosophy that fuels all my writing. Underneath the entertainment I deal with the big issues.

"My second novel, Wyrd, grew out of two major concerns: my interest in women's lost history and, in the present, the way in which young people give up their individual intelligence to 'group think' and so get sucked into cults.

"Novel number three, Here Comes the Night, is a sequel to Tipperary and set in 1939. It is my response to the neo-fascism rearing its head here in Australia and all over the world."

Gough's novels for young adults have been praised for their exuberant sense of humor, their wide casts of characters, and their concern with topical social issues. In her first novel, the award-winning A Long Way to Tipperary, the author creates a vigorous melange of characters who come together to form a traveling show under the direction of Mrs. Featherstonhaugh-Beauchamp, a comic character who "could easily have stepped from the pages of Pickwick Papers," according to a reviewer in the Word. The setting is 1918 Queensland, during the last days of the World War I, and Gough was credited with successfully incorporating a myriad of details that authentically reflect the period. Finally, "the broad tableau of characters introduces many diverse elements," observed Jane Connelly in Magpies, including "humour, romance, suspense, Aboriginal spirituality and the cultural diversity which is Australia." Connelly recommended the book for young adults and adults both as "not to be missed."

Gough's next novel for young adults, Wyrd, is a fantasy that interweaves the medieval world of Berengaria, the secret wife of Richard the Lionhearted, with the modern world of protagonist Trace in Sidney, Australia, through the discovery of Berengaria's journal. With her friends Ulla, Trixie, and Veronica, Trace becomes involved in a plan to save Berengaria's journal from the misogynist Professor Horniman, who strives to block the dissemination of women's history. "The storyline is fascinating and original," reported Magpies contributor Kim Caraher, who added: "Gough has a talent for revealing character and developing plot through vivacious and entertaining dialogue as part of short, meaningful scenes." Gough is also the author of Here Comes the Night, set in Calcutta, Bhutan, Prague, and Australia in 1939. The novel shares with its companion work, A Long Way to Tipperary, a time frame that places it in the shadow of war, and a large cast of characters drawn from a wide range of cultures, each displaced in some way. "All these unlikely characters come together not just to fight against oppression but also to act out a prayer of peace and light, the drawing in the circus ring of a great and powerful mandala," commented Tess Brady in Australian Book Review.

Gough added: "The writers who have influenced me are the humanists: John Steinbeck, Emile Zola, Charles Dickens, and the zany writers such as Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and Tom Robbins, and the English women writers who have a wicked sense of humor and style: Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt.

"Why do I write for children? Perhaps that is where the magic is still possible. Perhaps I am a case of arrested development. Perhaps, being born into the world of war in London, books kept reality at bay.

"Children's writing is given a lot of affirmation in Australia at present but with a population of only 18-million it is still hard to make a living as a writer. Writers are dreamers. My current dream is to find an American agent or publisher who will give me a wider audience."

The Nether Regions, Gough's first novel for adults, is a story of what Meanjin reviewer Eva Sallis called "the broken, frightened, damaged, and self-abused," as they exist in the mind of a stroke victim named Beverley. Beverley cannot speak or connect with the world around her in any way, yet her mind is alive with memories that bind her to this world in which she cannot participate. Within the setting of hydrotherapy sessions conducted by a New-Age therapist, defined according to Sallis by an "extraordinary shallowness and mercenary approach to her clients," Beverley seeks death by inventing stories about imaginary characters that she can kill at will by any method she chooses. These stories reveal, Sallis wrote, "a huge range of lived experiences, events, literary experiences and influences, and diverse modes, from the comic and the satiric to the raw and painful." Yet it seems that the very technique Beverley uses to approach death also demonstrates an underlying passion for life. Sallis found the stories uneven in their impact and relevance, at some times contrived and at others unresolved, yet overall she felt the novel has the vitality to hold the reader's attention. She wrote: "It is an ambitious work that cannot quite achieve the goals it sets itself but that will give many readers enjoyment along the way." "The Nether Regions tackles the big issues," commented a reviewer for the Compulsive Reader Web site, including themes of "male versus female, the richness of the aging woman, her children and often her husband gone … the pain of loss … the painful love we feel for our children, our lives, our gods and our selves; the love we all need." The reviewer recommended The Nether Regions, with only a few reservations, as "a marvellous novel, coupling linguistic beauty with humour, psychological fascination and intensity."



Australian Book Review, November, 1997, Tess Brady, review of Here Comes the Night, p. 59.

Exposure, January, 1994, p. 17.

Horn Book, July-August, 1993, p. 498.

Magpies, July, 1992, Jane Connelly, review of A Long Way to Tipperary, p. 33; July, 1994, Kim Caraher, review of Wyrd, p. 34; September, 1997, p. 38.

Meanjin, September, 2001, Eva Sallis, review of The Nether Regions, p. 228.

Word, March, 1992, review of A Long Way to Tipperary.


Compulsive Reader Web Site, http://www.compulsivereader.com/ (October 11, 2005), review of The Nether Regions.