David was brought up in inland Australia and, as a young man, worked as a jackaroo on sheep and cattle stations in the far west of Queensland. When he turned twenty-one, he gave all of that up and went to London to study art. He enrolled at St Martins School of Art and while in Beginners’ year, received, from Puffin Books, his first commission for book illustration.
His main aim at that time was to be a painter; but he realised in the end that his natural skills lay in story telling through words and drawing. His first story was published by Elizabethan Magazine in London, then by Lighthouse Magazine in New York.
David spent 8 years in Europe, mostly in the UK, but also some time in France and Spain. When he returned to Australia, worked for many years in the newspaper industry. In 1978, he won a Walkeley Award for newspaper illustration. He has written many children’s books and libretti for children’s opera, which he has illustrated, and he has also illustrated numerous books by other authors.
Since 1990, David has worked as a freelance author and illustrator. He is married to Australian composer, Betty Beath and together they have produced a number of songs, song cycles and music theatre pieces. He has also designed sets and costumes for opera, theatre and ballet companies.
Their most recent collaboration was Il Poverello a music theatre piece commissioned by the Brisbane Mandolin Orchestra and performed at St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane. It is a forty minute work, just a glimpse into the life of St Francis of Assisi. David wrote the lyrics for some of the songs (others were the words of Carlo Caretto and Brother William SSF) and also a narration, which he also delivered in performance.
Awards & Honours
- 2007 Dame Annabelle Rankin Award for distinguished services to Children’s Literature in Queensland
- 2004 Senior Writer’s Grant Literature Board, Australia Council
- 1996 SHORTLIST, CBCA awards
- 1995 SHORTLIST, CBCA awards
- 1994 INDONESIA-AUSTRALIA TRADE FAIR, JAKARTA, represented Australian children’s authors
- 1994 SPECIAL PURPOSE GRANT, Literature Board of the Australia Council
- 1992 SHORTLIST, CBCA awards
- 1988 PARENTS’ CHOICES MAGAZINE AWARD USA Best book illustrations
- 1988 CHILDREN’S CHOICES LIST, USA
- 1986 SHORTLISTED, CBCA Book of the Year awards.
- 1985 RESIDENCY (jointly with composer, Betty Beath) North Adams College, Massachusetts
- 1985 HONOUR BOOKS, Children’s Book Council of Australia, Book of the Year Award
- 1982 HONOUR BOOKS, Children’s Book Council of Australia, Book of the Year Award
- 1980 TRAVEL GRANT, Literature Board of The Australia Council
- 1978 National WALKELEY AWARD, Best newspaper illustration
- 1976 RESEARCH GRANT, from The Schools Commission
- 1974 SOUTH-EAST ASIA FELLOWSHIP, Australia Council Literature Board, awarded jointly with composer, Betty Beath, to research material in Indonesia