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Richard Harland (1947-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

Born 1947, in Huddersfield, England; Education: Cambridge University, B.A.; Newcastle University, M.A.; attended Sydney University; University of New South Wales, Ph.D.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Penguin Australia, 250 Camberwell Rd., Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia.


Writer, 1997—. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, tutor; University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia, senior lecturer in English for ten years. Also worked as a singer and songwriter in Sydney, Australia.


Testimony (poems and prose), Karl Evan Publishing (Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia), 1981.

Superstructuralism: The Philosophy of Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, Methuen (New York, NY), 1987.

Beyond Superstructuralism: The Syntagmatic Side of Language, Routledge (New York, NY), 1993.

Literary Theory from Plato to Barthes: An Introductory History, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Walter Wants to Be a Werewolf (juvenile fiction), Penguin (Camberwell, Australia), 2003.


The Vicar of Morbing Vyle, Karl Evans Publishing (Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia), 1993.

The Black Crusade, Chimaera Pulications (Mt. Waverly, Victoria, Australia), 2004.


The Dark Edge, Pan Macmillan Australia (Sydney, Australia), 1997.

Taken by Force, Pan Macmillan Australia (Sydney, Australia), 1998.

Hidden from View, Pan Macmillan Australia (Sydney, Australia), 1999.


Ferren and the Angel, Penguin (Camberwell, Australia), 2000.

Ferren and the White Doctor, Penguin (Camberwell, Australia), 2002.

Ferren and the Invasion of Heaven, Penguin (Camberwell, Australia), 2003.

Contributor to anthologies, including The Road to Camelot, edited by Sophie Masson, Random House, 2002. Contributor to academic journals, including Aspect, Australian Journal of Screen Theory, Essays in Criticism, Logos and Language, and Southern Review. Contributor of short stories, poetry, and prose to Agog!, All Hallows, Aurealis, Blacksmith, Bloodsongs, Borderlands, Makar, Nepean Review, New Poetry, Oceans of the Mind, Poetry Australia, Quadrant, Shadowland, Southern Review, Westerly, and Wicked Hollow.

Work in Progress

Juggernaut, a young adult fantasy novel.


Richard Harland "has the gift of making the complex seem straightforward, the astounding logical and the grotesque really quite familiar," according to David Carroll and Kyla Ward in the online journal Tabula Rasa. Harland, an ex-university lecturer and fantasy writer who lives in Australia, has made a name for himself with his 1993 work The Vicar of Morbing Vyle, as well as his "Eddon and Vail" series and "Heaven and Earth" trilogy.

Harland was born in Huddersfield, England, in 1947. His family moved frequently but eventually settled in Hadleigh, where Harland caught the writing bug. One rainy day, Harland and his cousins decided to turn their neighborhood adventures into stories and sell copies of their work at school. "We didn't get money for them, only lollies, swaps and stuff!" Harland explained on his Web site. "But that was when I first discovered the thrill of having someone come up to you and say 'Hey, that was great, have you got another one?' From that day on, I wanted to be a writer."

Harland graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in English. In 1970 he traveled to Australia to study at Newcastle University, and after just a few

Ferren befriends a warrior angel stranded on a devastated Earth, and they work to discover the truth about the evil Humen who plan to destroy the power of Heaven in the year 3000. (Cover photos courtesy of IPL Image Group and Austral International.)

weeks, Harland decided to make Australia his home. He earned a master's degree from Newcastle and began a doctoral thesis at Sydney University. After five frustrating years Harland abandoned his studies and began working as a singer, songwriter, and poet in Sydney. He later tutored part-time at the University of New South Wales, from which he earned his Ph.D. His thesis was published in 1987 as Superstructuralism: The Philosophy of Structuralism and Post-Structuralism. Harland eventually became a lecturer at the University of Wollongong and completed two other scholarly works. "I can't explain the separate halves of my mind," Harland wrote on his Web site. "There's one very abstract logical half which produces—used to produce—theories, and there's the other inventive half which loves to tell stories just for the love of stories."

Harland lectured at Wollongong for ten years, and while there he introduced classes on fantasy and speculative fiction. He also completed his debut novel, a gothic fantasy titled The Vicar of Morbing Vyle. In the work, Martin Smythe, a Cambridge student, ventures into Morbing Vyle, a village with a violent, mysterious past. Smythe discovers the foundation for what appears to be the world's largest church, and he encounters a number of odd characters inhabiting a vicarage. "This is not 'straight' horror novel," wrote Van Ikin in the Sydney Morning Herald, "but it's far, far richer than a spoof. Harland distills the essence of B-grade flicks and pulps, producing a romp that is pure celebration."

In 1997 Harland published The Dark Edge, the first book in his "Eddon and Vail" series. Set in the year 2660, The Dark Edge introduces Inspector Eddon Brac and his assistant, a psychic named Vail ev Vassinator. The two detectives are sent to planet P-19 to investigate several horrific slayings, only to discover that the number of murders—and murderers—is rapidly growing. In the words of Lucy Sussex in the Melbourne Age, The Dark Edge is "an impressive blend of science fiction, crime, and horror." Sussex also complimented the novel's "tight plotting and relentless narrative momentum." Taken by Force, published in 1998, and Hidden from View, a 1999 work, continue the series.

With the "Heaven and Earth" trilogy Harland began writing for young adults. For Ferren and the Angel, the initial work in the trilogy, the author created a "historical myth," he told Carroll and Ward. "I produced an explanation about how human beings had explored the boundaries between life and death, and with advanced medical technology had managed to bring a human being back to life, who had reported on the existence of Heaven and the angels, leading to scientific exploration, leading to warfare between Heaven and Earth."

In Ferren and the Angel, set in the year 3000, Earth is divided between the Humen, evil artificial beings who continue to war against Heaven, and the Residuals, a primitive race of people who are descendants of the original human beings. An angel named Miriael falls to

Ferren prepares to fight a fallen angel who wishes to rule both Heaven and Earth.

Earth and is rescued by Ferren, a Residual. Miriael befriends Ferren, teaching him the history of his people. When his tribe learns that Ferren has had contact with an angel, they banish him. Together, Ferren and Miriael plan to unite the many tribes of Residuals that are scattered across the globe.

Ferren and the White Doctor begins six months after the events of Ferren and the Angel. Ferren and Miriael have made progress in forming a Residual alliance, but a new threat emerges: the sinister Doctor Saniette has taken control of the Humen forces. Ferren and the Invasion of Heaven concludes the trilogy. Asmodai, a fallen angel, is now the leader of the Humen, and he plans to rule both Heaven and Earth. When Asmodai's armies invade Heaven, Ferren and members of the alliance join in the decisive battle of the Millennial War. As Harland explained to Carroll and Ward, "In a way the trilogy is about humans rediscovering themselves, and rediscovering their powers after having been degraded and cowed and stomped on for so long. The excitement of actually building a civilisation again—hopefully a better civilisation—but combining that with a reverence for the terrible beauty of angels."

Harland published the middle-grade reader Walter Wants to Be a Werewolf in 2003. In the tale, Walter Grimm, a young werewolf, is different from everyone else in his family. Instead of turning wolf-like and hairy during a full moon, Walter simply develops smooth blotches of greyish brown skin. Walter and his family hang their hopes on a visit to Dr. Van Fang.

Harland continues to write fantasy literature, and he is optimistic about the genre's future. In his Tabula Rasa interview, he stated that "Literary people have been fond of viewing fantasy as inferior, as appealing to 'less-educated people'—but fantasy has the energy and vitality and the creativity that current literature lacks. The future of storytelling grows from fantasy. That's where it is, that's where it's alive."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Aurealis, number 20-21, Robert Hood, "Living on the Dark Edge: An Interview with Richard Harland."

Australian, May 8, 1993, Terry Dowling, "Off the Map."

British Journal of Aesthetics, April, 1995, Olga McDonald, review of Beyond Superstructuralism: The Syntagmatic Side of Language, pp. 181-183.

Choice, February, 2000, W. F. Williams, review of Literary Theory from Plato to Barthes: An Introductory History, p. 1097.

Contemporary Sociology, May, 1988, Edith Kurzweil, review of Superstructuralism: The Philosophy of Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, pp. 422-424.

Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia), August 21, 1999, "Where the Twain Shall Meet," p. 8.

Eidolon, autumn, 1998, Van Ikin and Steven Paulsen, interview with Harland.

ETC., spring, 1989, review of Superstructuralism, pp. 76-78.

Melbourne Age, September 13, 1997, Lucy Sussex, "Mutant Fictions Emerge for the Millennium."

Modern Language Review, July, 1996, Steven Connor, review of Beyond Superstructuralism, pp. 677-679.

Quarterly Journal of Speech, May, 1989, Michael McGuire, review of Superstructuralism, pp. 225-226.

Review of English Studies, Elizabeth Wright, review of Superstructuralism, pp. 142-143.

Sunday Times (Perth, Australia), September 19, 1999, review of Hidden from View, p. 551.

Sydney Morning Herald, September 18, 1993, Van Ikin, "Fanged Rabbits Invade Kingzone."

Who Weekly, September 8, 1997, Stella Dimadis, review of The Dark Edge.


Australian SF Online, http://members.fortunecity.com/exoticsky/ (March 9, 2004), "Richard Harland."

Between the Lines, http://www.thei.aust.com/isite/btl/ (March 9, 2004), Jayne Margett, "Space Age Breakbeat."

Richard Harland's Home Page, http://www.richardharland.net/ (March 9, 2004).

Tabula Rasa, http://www.tabula-rasa.info/ (March 9, 2004), "Eccentric and Extreme: An Interview with Richard Harland."

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