About the author

Born in Brisbane in 1915, Michael Thwaites was educated at Geelong Grammar School and Melbourne University.

In 1938 as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he won the Newdigate Prize for poetry, and later was awarded the King’s Gold Medal for poetry, the first Australian to win this prestigious award, the other Australian recipients being Judith Wright and Les Murray.

His poems reflect the experiences of an unusually varied life, including six years at sea in the Navy in World War II, lecturing in English at Melbourne University, direction of counter-espionage in ASIO in the Stalin era, and deputy head of the Parliamentary Library in Canberra.

In 1988 with his wife Honor, he wrote the patriotic hymn For Australia, to a tune by Henry Purcell, which was sung at the opening of New Parliament House and at many parliamentary occasions since.

His best known poems include The Jervis Bay, The Prophetic Hour, and Message to My Grandson. His collected poems spanning 1932 to 2004 were published as Unfinished Journey which won the 2005 ACT Writing and Publishing Awards for poetry.

His management of the Petrov affair while at ASIO has been the subject of several books, including his own memoir Truth Will Out. He had three sons and a daughter, and nine grandchildren. He died on 1st November 2005.

On the web

Michael Thwaites on Wikipedia

Michael and Honor Thwaites Heritage Association (MAHTHA)

Michael Thwaites @ the National Library of Australia

A Catch of the Breath – theatrical production based on the poetry of Michael Thwaites