Robert Desmond Tate’s The Doughman

I was really hoping to discover who Robert Desmond Tate is, but alas, other than finding out he was educated in NZ, I know nothing of him other than he wrote a book which rather galvanised opinion in mid-thirties literary circles in Australia.

Set in a bakehouse amongst working class people faced with an evil boss and a terrible work environment, it was, depending on your point of view, a novel of ‘relentless realism’ (SMH) ‘a novel with the stuff of life in it’ (Bulletin) or ‘nothing less than realism running amuck'(Barrier Miner); it is either saved by its romantic theme or spoilt by it. Interestingly, all critics are agreed it is about a period that is gone for good since health inspectors have been introduced.

Other than the existence of this book, there is no record I can find of the author, though I will note that the papers of the literary man PERCY REGINALD STEPHENSEN contain material about him. It would appear that Stephensen was planning another edition of the book in the 1950s, which I assume did not appear. There is correspondence with Tate and about him listed in the contents of his papers.

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One thought on “Robert Desmond Tate’s The Doughman

  1. Robert Desmond Tate was my grandfather-my mother’s father. I have the original leather bound copy of the book in the box he kept. I also have copies of letters from Norman Lindsey and Dame Mary Gilmore praising the book- both of who were his friends. I am also a writer but an academic just finished my PhD. If you would like more information on Des e-mail me.

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