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Gerald Glaskin

Mosman writer dies at 77

Gerald Glaskin, a colourful author who lived and worked many years in the Cottesloe and Mosman Park area, has died at 77 after a long illness.
He was a sailor and stockbroker before he became a writer.
All his life, he enjoyed challenging orthodoxy.
Gerald's books are widely published in Commonwealth countries, the US, France, Germany, Holland Italy, Japan and Scandinavia.
He was born in Perth in 1923 then spent his first few years at Carnamah, where his father was secretary of the Road Board.
The family returned to Perth and six more children were born; Gerald was 21 years older than his youngest sister.
He said his childhood had been very fortunate, surrounded by loving relatives, parents, all four grandparents and the five unmarried sisters of his maternal grandmother.
In his dying days, and under the influence of morphine, he would call out for his mother, Dixie, and his great-aunt Fan.
At school, he started a pen friendship with a boy in Holland which lasted until the death of the Dutch boy in 1997, and Gerry wrote about the friendship in his book, One Way to Wonderland.
In World War II he joined the navy and was in the Java sea battle.
He had both arms broken in an accident which killed several sailors.
In hospital at home in WA, he used to listen to another sailor in a wheelchair read stories; Gerry said he could do better and a friend challenged him to do it.
Gerry dictated the stories which his friend wrote and they were printed in the West Australian.
While he was in the navy he sent passionate letters to a girlfriend who replied in the same vein; but the romance ended when he met another sailor who showed him identical letters from the same girl.
When his arms healed, he went to Sydney, joined the air force and was sent to Canada for training.
There he became engaged to a Canadian girl, Norma, but the engagement was cancelled because Gerry did not like the Canadian cold.
His neck and spine were injured when a plane he was in hit an air pocket and lost altitude, an injury aggravated in a surfing accident in 1967, which forced him to wear a surgical collar for the last 30 years of his life.
After the war he spent several months writing his first book, A World of Our Own, about soldiers returning to civilian life after war.
He always maintained The Seekers had stolen his title for their famous song.
He went to Singapore, then joined stockbroking firm Lyle and Evatt and became a partner.
Gerry bought a house in Perth for his mother and two younger sisters. His father was ill, the result of years in Japan with the occupation forces and working in cold storage rooms.
In Singapore he continued writing and met Han Suyin, famous for her book, A Many
They kept in touch many years and his last book, A Many Splendoured Woman, is the story of their friendship.
In Singapore, at 34, he was one of three people who caught meningitis.
The other two died, and doctors told Gerry he would not reach 40 and should get his papers in order.
In later years, he would gleefully tell the story and add: "Here I am, aged up to 76, and all those doctors are dead."
He left Singapore to live in the Netherlands, returning often to Perth by sea and writing all the while.
In 1967 he met Leo van de Pas who worked in a bank but was fascinated by history and genealogy.
Gerald had trouble typing because of his wartime arm injuries, and invited Leo to come to Australia and work as his assistant.
He agreed and was Gerald's companion and, finally, carer.
For the past 10 years they lived in high-rise apartments in Mosman Park.
Gerry often enthused about the quality life in Mosman Park: "Here we live up with the gods with views of the Indian Ocean to Rottnest - and it costs nothing compared with Europe."

References and Links

The article above was originally published in the Post newspaper, Subiaco (date unknown), and retrieved from the Wayback Machine.

Wikipedia article for Gerald Glaskin (1923-2000).

van Langenberg, Carolyn 2002, 'The compelling Mr Glaskin, a work in progress', Pub Talk.

Darbyshire, Jo 2010, 'The Coffee Pot', Museum of Perth.


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