Rodney Hall was born in 1935 at Solihull, in Warwickshire, England. His father died when he was still an infant, and after World War Two the family emigrated to Australia, moving to Brisbane where his mother had relatives. He was educated at Brisbane Boys’ College. Keenly interested in music, Hall befriended the musician, writer and folklorist John Manifold, who introduced him to a variety of new literary, cultural, and political influences, as well as to a number of leading Australian writers, including Kath Walker [Oodgeroo Noonuccal], through whom he became involved in the struggle for Aboriginal rights. In the 1960s Hall combined activism and journalism for the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement with freelance acting and scriptwriting work for the ABC, and also undertook an Arts degree (majoring in music) at the University of Queensland.
Hall published his first poetry collection, Penniless till Doomsday, in 1962. He has published twelve further poetry collections, including A Soapbox Omnibus, which won the Grace Leven Poetry Prize in 1973. His poetry reveals his interest in and knowledge of myth, from Western, Asian, and indigenous Australian traditions, and he has written a number of poetic cycles in a sequence form he terms ‘Progressions’. From 1967 until the late 1970s he was poetry editor forThe Australian newspaper, and from 1972 to 1975 an adviser to publishers Angus and Robertson, for whom he edited a number of poetry anthologies. From 1990 to 1994, he served as chair of the Literature Board of the Australia Council. He is also the author of more than a dozen novels, as well as books of criticism and biography. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to literature in 1990, and in 2003 received an honourary Doctor of Literature from the University of Queensland.
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