About Mary Grant Bruce
A terrible shooting accident in 1929 at Drumcrinna took Pat’s life at the very young age of 12, and the Bruces moved to Bexhill in southern England until the end of 1938, when the gathering war clouds persuaded them to return to Australia. They sailed on the maiden voyage of the Dominion Monarch, which at 25,500 tonnes was talked up as being the largest, fastest, most splendid ship in the world. It was one of he first ships to use gyroscopic stabilization. In fact, it rolled magnificently.
The Bruces entered Port Phillip Bay on 13th January 1939, the date now best known as Black Friday, when much of Victoria had major bushfires. The smoke and ash from them was sufficient to blanket New Zealand for the following fortnight. As by then she was a very well established author with an international reputation, Mary’s arrival was the talk of the town, and she was much celebrated an honoured with a civic reception. “The most beloved of all Australian writers, no matter what their field,” wrote the Melbourne Herald, and many other newspapers had similar eulogies.
In June 1939, Mary Grant Bruce told an interviewer “Oh, and do put this in your article. All my characters are fictitious. I never put real people in my books and, to tell you the truth, I’m rather growing tired of reading that so-and-so was the original Norah. There is a good deal of my own father in David Linton, the father in the Billabongs, and quite a lot of my little Pat in The Houses of the Eagle. Otherwise all of my characters are quite ordinary.”