views updated

Yeldham, Peter 1927–

PERSONAL:

Born April 25, 1927, in Gladstone, New South Wales, Australia; son of Alan (a doctor) and Faith Yeldham; married Marjorie Crane, October 27, 1948; children: one son, one daughter. Ethnicity: "Australian." Politics: Labor Party.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Yarramalong, New South Wales, Australia; fax: 612-43-531448. Agent—Nick Quinn, The Agency Ltd., 24 Pottery Ln., London W11 4LZ, England.

CAREER:

Writer.

MEMBER:

Australian Writers Guild, Australian Society of Authors, British Writers Guild.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Sammy Award, best television series in Australia, 1979, for Run from the Morning; Writers Guild awards, best adaptation, 1980, for Ride on Stranger, 1983, for 1915, and 1986 for The Far Country, and best mini-series, 1989, for The Alien Years; Penguin Award, best script, 1982, for 1915; Order of Australia Medal, 1991; Centenary Medal, 2003; Australian Logie Award for Jessica.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Reprisal (thriller), Eldorado (Cremorne, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

Without Warning (thriller), Pan (Sydney, Australia), 1995.

Two Sides of a Triangle (thriller), Pan (Sydney, Australia), 1996.

A Bitter Harvest (historical), Pan Macmillan (Sydney, Australia), 1997.

The Currency Lads (historical), Pan Macmillan (Sydney, Australia), 1998.

Against the Tide (historical), Pan Macmillan (Sydney, Australia), 1999.

Land of Dreams (historical), Pan Macmillan (Sydney, Australia), 2002.

The Murrumbidgee Kid (historical), Penguin Books (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2007.

Barbed Wire and Roses, Penguin Books (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2007.

PLAYS

Birds on the Wing, Evans Plays (London, England), 1969.

She Won't Lie Down (later known as "Ready When You Are, Darling"), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1972.

(With Donald Churchill) Fringe Benefits (two-act), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1977.

(With Donald Churchill) My Friend Miss Flint (two-act), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1984.

(With Martin Worth) Lighting up Time (two-act), Samuel French (New York, NY), 1984.

Seven Little Australians, 1988.

Split down the Middle, 1998.

SCREENPLAYS

The Comedy Man, 1963.

The Liquidator, 1965.

Age of Consent, 1968.

Touch and Go, 1979.

TELEVISION SCRIPTS

Run from the Morning, 1977.

Golden Soak, 1978.

Ride On, Stranger, 1979.

The Timeless Land, 1979.

Tusitala (miniseries), 1985.

Captain James Cook, (miniseries), 1987.

The Heroes, (miniseries), 1989.

Heroes II, (miniseries), 1991.

Jessica (miniseries), 2001.

Author of television plays, including Reunion Day, Stella, Thunder on the Snowy, East of Christmas, and The Cabbage Tree Hat Boys.

SIDELIGHTS:

Peter Yeldham is a versatile Australian writer whose writings include stage plays, scripts for television and film, and novels. His screenplays include Age of Consent, director Michael Powell's idyllic film about a middle-aged painter's budding romance with a younger woman. Yeldham's television writings, meanwhile, include such productions as Run from the Morning, which J.R. Carroll, writing in the Australian Book Review, referred to as "excellent."

Yeldham's first novel, Reprisal, concerns three Vietnam War veterans who successfully commit a bank robbery in Sydney, then see their achievement undone when police probe the sudden death of their former getaway driver three years later. While the thieves attempt to prosper in legitimate business, various investigators, including the inspector who handled the original robbery probe, attempt to bring them to justice. Without Warning is a thriller in which Megan and David Turner run afoul of a deranged police officer. After a routine pullover results in an argument, lawman Arch Whitelaw determines to wreak havoc on the couple, both of whom are involved in the film business. Whitelaw begins by stalking Megan, then shapes events so that David doubts his wife's fidelity. Megan eventually turns to Whitelaw's superior officer for restitution, but her action only serves to make matters worse. Ultimately the Turners are compelled to retaliate against their mad antagonist. J.R. Carroll described Without Warning in an Australian Book Review appraisal as "a nightmarish thriller." Carroll added that the novel "builds deceptively, holding the reader and not letting go until the last unexpected … twist." In another thriller, Two Sides of a Triangle, a disgruntled police officer teams with a beautiful, resourceful woman to topple an Asian drug lord with ties to an English powerbroker.

In his next novel, the historical A Bitter Harvest, Yeldham broke from the thriller genre to chronicle the exploits of a former thief, along with his daughter and her husband, throughout pivotal periods in Australian history. Kate Happell wrote in the Australian Book Review that A Bitter Harvest possesses "an undeniably simple plot and even more simplistic characters," but she added that "it certainly provides entertainment."

The title for Yeldham's next book, The Currency Lads, comes from the colloquial phrase for native-born Australians. In the novel, two boys who become friends through a deadly twist of fate grow into enemies as they get older and take opposing sides in Australia's policy of importing cheap, convict labor. In a review for the Telegraph, Alister McMillan called The Currency Lads "a succulent fable" and praised Yeldham for writing "an epoch rarely visited."

Yeldham's next historical novel, Against the Tide, concerns siblings who arrive in Australia toward the end of World War II and find themselves faced with considerable hardship, including the struggle to survive in what Elizabeth Dean, writing in the Australian Book Review, called "the inhospitable landscape." Dean deemed Against the Tide "a good read for those who like action." In a review of the novel for the Telegraph, critic Alan Hill cited Yeldham as "the master of the Australian historical blockbuster."

Yeldham once told CA: "When I said I wanted to be a writer at age seventeen, my father said I was insane. He said I should get a safe job in a bank. More than fifty years on, I'm still a writer, enjoying it. The bank would have fired me years ago.

"Having been an expatriate for a third of my life, it was a joy to come home to Australia and absorb myself in writing Australian drama and Australian novels. After being away so long I felt like an immigrant, and so my favorite work, particularly in my novels, has been about immigrants. My feeling is perhaps best summed up by the dedication of my novel Against the Tide: ‘To the waves of immigrants who made the long journey against the tide, bringing us new visions, this book is dedicated.’"

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Yeldham, Peter, Against the Tide, Pan Macmillan (Sydney, Australia), 1999.

PERIODICALS

Australian Book Review, September, 1994, J.R. Carroll, "Guilt Edge," pp. 62-63; May, 1995, J.R. Carroll, "Crime Past and Present," p. 66; May, 1996, J.R. Carroll, "Cankers," pp. 60-61; June, 1997, Kate Happell, review of A Bitter Harvest, pp. 64-65; September, 1999, Elizabeth Dean, review of Against the Tide, p. 45.

About this article

Yeldham, Peter 1927–

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article