Nov 28, 2019

Statement – Vale Clive James – Thursday, 28 November 2019


Clive James was a giant of Australian letters, and one of the greatest poets and intellectuals this country has ever produced.

Clive passed away at his home in the UK at the weekend after a long illness, aged 80.

The “Kid from Kogarah” started his working life as an assistant editor at The Sydney Morning Herald before forging a 50-year career as a scholar, poet, lyricist, essayist, novelist, memoirist, critic and broadcaster.

At home and abroad, he entertained and moved readers and TV audiences with his profound and provocative insights, acerbic wit and boundless sense of humour.

“Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds,” Clive once wrote. “A sense of humour is just common sense, dancing. Those who lack humour are without judgement and should be trusted with nothing.”

Despite all the impressive achievements that made him a household name in Australia and the UK, he never lost his connection to his working-class roots or his commitment to a “fair go for the workers”.

He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1992 and that was upgraded to Officer level in 2013. He was similarly honoured in the UK for his services to literature and the media.

As Clive once said: “Fiction is life with the dull bits left out”.

Clive’s life was certainly not dull – but the world without him is a less intelligent and less colourful place.

Vale Clive James.