Tales of a forgotten world in the Jamison Valley

Lachlan French

The writer and poet Mark O’Flynn was on home turf for the launch of his new book, a historical novel entitled The Forgotten World, at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba on Saturday.

The launch, presented in conjunction with Varuna, the writers’ house and literary retreat in Katoomba, was the first event of the Sydney Writers Festival and one of many in the regional program.

Mark O’Flynn, who now lives in the Blue Mountains and has spent time at Varuna, was introduced by close friend and poet, Deb Westbury. He then gave two readings from the novel.

Mark O’Flynn: celebrating a forgotten world. Picture: Lachlan French

Mark O’Flynn: celebrating a forgotten world. Picture: Lachlan French

The Forgotten World is the story of two inseparable half-brothers, Byron and Clancy Wilson. Set in the Jamison Valley in the Blue Mountains, the novel charts a life of loyalty and betrayal in the late 1800s, and introduces the reader to familiar real life characters such as Sir Henry Parkes, artist Julian Ashton and Lord Carrington, a former British High Commissioner in Australia, and Lady Carrington.

The Federal Member for Macquarie Louise Markus and local environmentalist, Mick Dark, were among the guests. Mr Dark, the son of one of Australia’s most respected writers, Eleanor Dark, donated the family house Varuna to the community in 1989.

Mark O’Flynn studied at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, and worked for a number of years in theatre. After producing several plays, he turned to fiction and poetry. His first collection of poems The Too Bright Sun was published in 1996. He has also published a novella Captain Cook (1987), and the play Paterson’s Curse (1988). His second book of poems The Good Oil was published in 2000.

In 2001, he received funding from the NSW Ministry for the Arts to write the play Eleanor & Eve, which premiered at Varuna in 2002, and was remounted at the Q Theatre in 2003. His second novel Grassdogs was published in 2006 after winning the Harper Collins/Varuna manuscript prize. What Can Be Proven, his third collection of poems was published in 2007. A selection of these poems, Falling Awake, was published by in 2010. His memoir, False Start: A Memoir of Things Best Forgotten, was released in March.