Skip to content

About Chester Eagle

Book Banner 001

The Eagle family reached Australia in 1833, and by the time Chester was born most of the Eagles had land along the Murray River and its tributaries and and branches at Barham, in south-western New South Wales. Chester’s parents, Norman and Alice Eagle (Duncan) had moved, however, to run, first, a general store at Finley, ninety miles to the east, and then a farm not far from Finley. It was the time of the great depression and Chester’s parents, like most farmers, were ‘scratching’ as the saying had it, but despite the economic reality the security of the farm (Father) and household (Mother) meant that for the child the main feeling was one of security and dignity rather than of poverty. The Eagles took pride in themselves because they felt they could cope with almost anything, and the Duncans set themselves high personal standards and drew pride in living up to them. To this day I am not aware of any black sheep in either family, although I suppose that if one searched far enough …

Chester attended Finley State School for six years, then had another six in Melbourne. He had four years at Melbourne University, then took up a teaching appointment in Bairnsdale, in eastern Victoria. It was there that he came into contact with the writer-extraordinaire Hal Porter, and decided that writing was to be the centre of his life. He married Mary Hutchings, and moved to Melbourne. He continued teaching (Preston Technical School, later Preston TAFE College), but managed to write as well as work, be a parent, and everything else. He took the state-given opportunity to retire at age fifty-five and was able at last to devote himself to writing full-time. This term is misleading, perhaps, because his habits, well set by now, involve writing after breakfast until mid-morning, by which time the day’s work is done. The rest of the day is given over to looking at the world around him, brooding, a little re-reading, correction and revising, and to music. Throw in the garden, some travel, persistent reading of anything recommended by friends, a little wining and dining, and you have a life of almost uninterrupted regularity and concentration, which happens to suit his temperament. Anything else which needs to be said will emerge from the notes under the heading ‘The writing of this book’ at the end of each of the entries that follow.

Chester Eagle
10 October 1933 – 6 May 2021