Saturday, July 18, 2009

Martin Boyd (Thanks, Andrew)

I think Martin Boyd is part of some big Australian dynasty family. I remember Andrew saying that when he suggested the name for me.

I'm trying to think of dynasties we have in America.

The first one that comes to my mind is the Barrymores.

Then there's the Hiltons. We actually met one of them once; Paris Hilton's Mommy. We met her at one of the family hotels. The Waldorf Astoria in NYC. This was before Paris Hilton had become a household name.

There's the Rockefellers. I don't know much about them.

There's the Forbes. Right? I think they're a dynasty. Maybe not. Maybe they're just a magazine.

I almost forgot The Kennedy family.

There might be more that I'm forgetting.

I guess I should start finding out more about Australian dynasties.

As for Boyd....Lord Wiki says he was part of an artistic dynasty. Do I assume the family was wealthy? Is wealth necessary to be considered a dynasty? I'm guessing it is somewhat.

Baby Martin was born on 10 June 1893. I'm double and triple checking that birthdate so I don't make the same mistake I made yesterday.

He's a Gemini like my niece Darcy.

He's a 1 in numerology like Tim.

If Boyd was still alive, his age would be equivalent to a sixteen year-old dog. My family actually had a dog that lived until he was sixteen. His name was Beau....a cute little white Cairn Terrier. We had him from when I was two until I was a senior in high school.

Baby Martin was born in Switzerland.

I don't know much about Switzerland. People put money in Swiss banks. I know that. Switzerland is known for being neutral during wars. Right? Honestly, when I think of Switzerland I think of hot chocolate. One of the most prominent hot chocolate labels here is called Swiss Miss. I don't think it really has anything to do with Switzerland.

I don't think I've ever known someone from Switzerland.

Oh! Lord Wiki says that Toblerone comes from Switzerland. I probably knew that. Tim is a Toblerone least he used to be. We used to eat it a lot when we lived in NYC. Like Vegemite, Toblerone was bought out by Kraft. There's something sad about a food becoming Krafty.

Lindt is Swiss too. I really like their chocolates. I just bought a bar the other day. It has red peppers in it. I love spicy chocolate. Lindt isn't fair trade though. I wish it was. Hello Lindt people out there!!! Please make your chocolate fair trade. Hello? Hello? Do you hear me? Then I can it without feeling guilty.

I wish ethical food was more readily available.

I should probably stop talking about Swiss chocolate and get on with the Martin Boyd stuff.

Lord Wiki says he was brought up in Australia. I'm not sure when he left Switzerland. Infancy? Later than that?

I'm reading about his father now. It seems the family wasn't Swiss. They just traveled a lot. Boyd's paternal grandparents were from Victoria and Ireland. Boyd's dad was born in New Zealand. He moved to Australia in 1870. Then later the family traveled around Europe. I guess in 1893 they were in Switzerland. Later that year they moved back to Melbourne.

Martin was the youngest of his siblings. He had a brother that was a painter, and another brother was a potter. Martin became a fiction writer.

I guess at one time he wanted to be an architect. He was trained in that field.

He served in World War I. Then he went to live in England. He stayed in Europe for most of his life. The exception was from 1948-1951. I guess he came back to Australia?

He died in Rome five months before I was born.

Boyd didn't get married. He had no children. But it seems he kept up a good relationship with his nieces and nephews. There was Arthur, Mary, and David the painters; Guy the sculptor; Lucy the potter, and Robin the architect. It seems David and Mary are still alive.

I'm looking at Martin Boyd's writing now.

In 1928, he wrote a novel under the pseudonym Martin Mills. It was called The Montforts. It won the Australian Literature Society Gold medal. I'm looking at their list of winners. I think I've read only one book....Eucalyptus by Murray Bail.

Twenty-nine years after his first win, Boyd won another ALS gold medal. This was for his novel A Difficult Young Man.

I'm looking at Powell's website right now. I need to go there more often to add books to my wish list. I'm planning to order books soon...a late mother's day gift for myself. I have to remember what I wanted. It would be smart of me if I added books as I thought of them. I also need to delete books that I've lost interest in.

I just added a Germaine Greer book to the list, and Helen Reddy's autobiography. I'm not sure if I'll like Martin Boyd's work. I might add one book to the list...try it out.

I just put myself on a notification list for A Difficult Young Man. If the book becomes available, Powells will email me. I have a feeling by the time I get the email I will have lost interest.

I'm done with Lord Wiki. I guess I'll look elsewhere.

Here's a brief biography from the middlemiss website.

They say that before he went into architecture, he studied theology. I wonder why he changed his mind about that.

I'm thinking what it would be like to be born into a career-type dynasty. I guess it could be really good or really bad. If you have talent in that area, it might be nice. You might have more luck with success. For example, if my parents and siblings were all writers...I would probably have had more luck getting my novels published. But then there's the problem of being compared to family members.

If you're NOT interested in that career path, and there's a pressure to fit in with the family, then that could be hard. My brother-in-law is kind of in a career dynasty. He's a pediatrician. His parents are both doctors. His mom is in pediatrics. I'm not sure about his dad. My sister is a nurse-practitioner. So there might be some pressure on my nephew to pursue a medical career. Now I don't think my sister would be the type of mom to force or manipulate her child to take a certain career path. But there could still be subtle pressures. Who knows though. Little Javier might WANT to grow up and be a doctor.

This website says that after his time in World War I, Boyd tried doing the religion thing again. He tried doing the Franciscan order of the Anglican church. I guess that didn't work too well for him. He started fiction writing instead.

When Boyd returned to Australia in 1948, he lived at his grandfather's house in a place called Berwick. That's in Victoria, not too far from Melbourne. I'll look at a map in a second.

It's about forty minutes south-east of Melbourne.

The website says that ill-health forced Boyd to return to England. Maybe he didn't do well with the Australian air? In my mind, it seems like it would be more the other way around. You feel sick in England so you come to Australia. England seems to cold and damp. I can't imagine going there to improve your health.

Here's a good long entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. This website usually has very good information.

Martin was the fourth son of Mommy and Daddy Boyd.

They were both painters.

With their children, they traveled around Europe.

Martin's maternal grandmother traveled with them. She was rich. It's she who financed the family's artistic life. She got her money via her ex-convict father. He founded the Melbourne Brewery.

Around the time that Martin was born, Melbourne had a financial crash. The family lost a lot of their money; about half. It seems that's why they came back to Australia. They no longer had travel-around-the-world money.

The website suggests that Martin's love of Europe might come from the fact that he felt deprived in his childhood. Before he was born, his family and been rich travelers. In his childhood, they weren't so well off.

When Martin was three, his older brother died in a tragic riding accident.

The website names places that the family lived.

They lived in a Melbourne suburb called Sandringham. It's south-east of the CBD. Lord Wiki says it's a prestigious beach area place.

From the age of about thirteen until about twenty, Martin's family lived in a dairy farm in Yarra Glen. That area suffered damage in the recent fires.

It's about an hour north-east of Melbourne.

The website says the family had hopes of establishing Merric on the land. I have no earthly idea what that means.

Boyd went to boarding school at Trinity Grammar School. That's in Melbourne. The headmaster made the school unusually informal and non-authoritarian. He sounds like a nice guy...maybe somewhat like Dumbeldore. I guess the guy was a clergyman. It was because of him that Boyd considered taking a religious career path.

At school, Boyd helped edit the school magazine. He also developed a love of English poetry.

The website says Boyd's previous religious experience was with his mother's strict fundamentalism. I guess the headmaster showed him a more positive easygoing side of religion.

In 1912, Boyd enrolled at St. John's College in St. Kilda. I can't find a website for them so they might be gone now.

Boyd didn't like his time at St. John's. According to the website, Boyd soon became bored and restless, missing social life and finding no spiritual or aesthetic sustenance. I wonder why. I'm guessing the school showed the side of religion that Boyd hadn't seen from his beloved headmaster.

It's funny how a bad experience at school, or a boring book can make us lose interest in something. There was a time where I really liked flowers. I liked collecting them and drying them. Then I had this awful biology teacher who made us do this annoyingly extensive flower project. After that I lost my love for flowers. I like them okay now. They're pretty. But I did lose a lot of my love because of that teacher.

I've had interests in subjects. I buy a book. The book is so boring. I end up thinking well, maybe I liked the subject less than I thought. I feel though that the problem with a lot of nonfiction books is not the subject matter but the way it's written.

Martin and his brothers lacked ambition in earning a living. I suppose they felt they'd live off of the family fortune?

His mother pushed him to try architecture.

Boyd accepted that, and started working at a firm called Purchas and Teague.

He did well with architecture, but wasn't very professionally motivated. He seemed to prefer writing and partying.

He reminds me a little bit of Paris Hilton. Although I don't think she writes. Does she?

When the big war began, Boyd didn't want any part in it. His story is different from others I've read. It seems when I read about people and those days most seemed to WANT to fight and be a part of it.

Boyd claims he was a pacifist. Maybe that's true. It might be more likely that he preferred partying over war stuff. I personally don't like wars or parties. But I'd probably prefer parties.

Several of Boyd's friends were killed at Gallipoli. This made him decide that he didn't want to join the Australian Imperial Force. Boyd decided if he was going to fight, he would fight with England. It's not that he wanted to fight. It seems he felt pressured to stop being a pacifist and join in the game.

Boyd seemed to have affection for Europe. Maybe it's like how I have affection for Australia.

He went off to England for war stuff. Fortunately for him, he didn't have to do any immediate fighting. He got to spend some time in the English countryside and London. He had a grand old time.

Boyd spent some time living with his aunt in London. They were editors of some magazine or newspaper. Boyd helped them a bit. He was introduced to the writer's life.

Then a little later he was sent to France to fight. He did flying stuff.

In 1919, Boyd returned to Melbourne. Life was difficult for him. There was a sense of alienation between him and his peers who had fought for Australia. Some felt that he had become too English.

Boyd no longer had interest in architecture. Some of his family members were doing pottery business stuff. Boyd didn't want to join them.

His close friends at the time were his second cousins. There's speculation that he was in love with one of them...Nancy. But his love for her must not have been that strong. He soon abandoned her to return to England.

I can kind of relate to this least his love for a country that's not his own.

I can't relate to the fact that he actually got to go and live in the country. But hey. At least I've had a chance to visit.

Boyd went to London. He worked for the same newspaper/magazine that his aunt's husband had worked for... British-Australasian.

He got bored of London and went to some religious retreat place in Dorset England. While there he got news that another one of his brothers had died. This one perished in a car crash.

Boyd was very distraught over his brother's death. He felt compelled to join a monastery. He did that for awhile and then quit.

That experience, and his war experience, later gave him material for his writings.

That's the great thing about being a writer. Your life experiences (both bad and good) give you more material to work with. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...and/or it gives you material for your next book or blog post.

The book he wrote The Montforts is based on his mother's family...The a Beckett family. The A is supposed to have a little thingie on top of it. I'm not sure how to type that though. Have any of you read The Montforts? Andrew, did you read it? I'm wondering if I'd like it or not.

Boyd lived quite the life. He wrote in the winter. He traveled during the summer.

I wish I could do that! I'd love to write and travel. I mean I DO write. And I do travel. I just want more. I'm being greedy. I should be happy with what I have. I have a pretty easy life. I don't have a job. I have one healthy child who is relatively smart and easy. We're not in a financial catastrophe. I have time to pursue my hobbies and interests. I know others who are struggling to keep afloat.

Still, it's probably not wrong to occasionally wish you lived the lives of those even luckier than you. I think it's okay as long as you more often recognize the fact that there are others who have much difficult lives than you do.

When Boyd returned to Australia in 1948, he found life to be disappointing. Although his writing did well in America and England, it was pretty much ignored in Australia.

Boyd wasn't happy in Australia.

Boyd also wasn't too happy anymore in England.

He went to live in Rome. That wasn't too great for him either. He was lonely there.

There's speculation that Boyd might have been gay. I think that could explain his perpetual dissatisfaction and loneliness. I think life is hard for those stuck in the closet. Unfortunately it's also hard for those who come OUT of the closet...I'm sure even more so in those days.

I think another possibility is Boyd could have been asexual. I think that's often overlooked. I think there are some people who are simply less passionate about romantic relationships. It's not a priority from them.

I need to remember to look at this biography website more often. It really has good stuff.

I was going to quit here, but did a little more searching. ABC has their dynasty website. They have some stuff about the Boyd family. I'll read the transcript.

Someone from an art gallery says that in the Boyd family, if one of them does something, the family surrounds them. I think what they're talking about is artistic successes. If a Boyd is showing his work, the family will all show up to be supportive.

I'm wondering if this included Martin. Did his writing get the attention that the visual artists received, or was his writing ignored?

Okay, now I know what a Merric is. It's a name. I think it's one of Martin's nephews. I guess they wanted the dairy farm to eventually go to him.

There's not much about Martin on the website. It's more about his dad.

I'm tired so I'm going to stop now.


  1. That was really interesting to me Dina. Many things I did not know. But there was significant stuff missing I think. I might just write my own post on him. I could well be confusing two different people. I need clarity of thought.

  2. Andrew,

    I look forward to reading your post. I did feel like I must be missing something....