In spite of holidays when I was free to visit London theatres and explore the countryside, I spent four very miserable years as a colonial at an English school.
I continued writing the bad plays which fortunately nobody would produce, just as no one did me the unkindness of publishing my early novels.
As a result of the asthma I was sent to school in the country, and only visited Sydney for brief, violently asthmatic sojourns on my way to a house we owned in the Blue Mountains.
Even if a university should turn out to be another version of a school, I had decided I could lose myself afterwards as an anonymous particle of the London I already loved.
I left for New York expecting to repeat my success, only to be turned down by almost every publisher in that city, till the Viking Press, my American publishers of a lifetime, thought of taking me on.
When I was rising eighteen I persuaded my parents to let me return to Australia and at least see whether I could adapt myself to life on the land before going up to Cambridge.
I developed the habit of writing novels behind a closed door, or at my uncle's, on the dining table.
I think it is impossible to explain faith. It is like trying to explain air, which one cannot do by dividing it into its component parts and labeling them scientifically. It must be breathed to be understood.
Then about 1951 I began writing again, painfully, a novel I called in the beginning A Life Sentence on Earth, but which developed into The Tree of Man.
Probably induced by the asthma, I started reading and writing early on, my literary efforts from the age of about nine running chiefly to poetry and plays.
In fact I enjoyed every minute of my life at King's, especially the discovery of French and German literature.
My father and mother were second cousins, though they did not meet till shortly before their marriage.
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