Arthur Hoey Davis (Steele Rudd) (1868 - 1935)
(How far can you see? How far?) But always … the same smalltown reply: I can see Toowoomba. I can see the Range. And here on the other side of the creek in 1963 Old Jack behind a draughthorse is ploughing a paddock for potatoes.' ‘From the Bottom of the Range, The View,’ Jean Kent
Arthur Hoey Davis owes his substantial popular reputation to comic representations of the trials and tribulations of the small selector on the Darling Downs. Davis, who wrote under the pseudonym of Steele Rudd, was the son of a blacksmith who selected land at Emu Creek just south of Toowoomba in 1870.
He left school at the age of twelve in 1880 and spent the next five years working on properties in the area. In 1885 his mother used political connections to secure her son a public service place in Brisbane and the young man moved to the big city. Davis began to write his comic stories in the 1890s and they began appearing in the Sydney Bulletin from 1895.
With the assistance of A.G. Stephens, Davis' selection stories were collected in On Our Selection (1899). The 'Dad and Dave' stories as they came to be known eventually filled numerous editions and were packaged and repackaged for different markets. Other volumes included Our New Selection (1903), Sandy's Selection (1904) and Back on Our Selection (1906). Rudd published more than twenty works of fiction and six plays including ten books dealing with the gradual if often tragic success of the Rudd family. Dad and Dave also featured in a number of popular plays, three silent movies, four 'talkies' and a long running radio series that became a national institution.
Success as a writer and growing connections with the Sydney literati saw him move to Sydney but financial pressures stemming from a series of ultimately unsuccessful Steele Rudd magazines later saw him return to a small property on the Darling Downs. He died in Brisbane on 11 October 1935. Further Reading
Bruce Bennett, 'Alternative Traditions: 1880-1930,' Australian Short Fiction: A History. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2002. 69-100.
Eric Irvin, Australian Melodrama : Eighty Years of Popular Theatre, Sydney, New South Wales : Hale & Iremonger, 1981.
Richard Fotheringham, In Search of Steele Rudd, St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1995
.Jim Hoy, 'John Ise and Steele Rudd: The Literary Response to Homesteading in America and Selecting in Australia,' Antipodes 11.2 (Dec. 1997): 91-94.
Ken Stewart, 'Person, Persona and Product: Henry Kendall and 'Steele Rudd'. Australian Literary Studies 17.3 (1996): 289-292. Submissions and suggestions for writers not yet included can be sent to email@example.com