Welcome to Victor Marsh

About Me

The photo of the boy child, ca. 1948, taken in the room where he used to wear the ill-fated dress!

My background

I'm a 1945 model!  I hit the planet in Western Australia and grew up in a hastily constructed, home-made closet before such things were even theorised. You might call that an instinctive survival strategy.  It was dangerous to be different in a culture that only respected a rigid binary of gender options. You can find out more in my book: The Boy in the Yellow Dress. I went to Victoria Park and Attadale Primary schools, and was elected captain of Applecross Senior High School in 1965 or thereabouts. You can read all about it in my book: The Boy in the Yellow Dress.

Me and my brother, at primary school. (He's the confident one on the right.)

My Aussie family roots

What does it mean to be 'Australian"?  Yes, I was born in Perth but is that enough to constitute an authentic national identity? When you have no indigenous forebears, when your mother's parents come from the United States, and your father's from perhaps Sweden and the Ukraine, and you feel distinctly out of step with the prevailing attitudes common in society, you could feel like a bit of a 'mongrel'.  Read more about my ambiguous origins in my Griffith Review essay: "Please explain: Narratives of displacement and belonging in Terra Australis."  GR 44

Portrait of Isherwood for cover art, courtesy of his life partner, Don Bachaerdy.

Writing history

In my early 20s, as an intensely idealistic thespian I wrote critical newspaper review, to mostly disastrous effect. When my career in television production gained traction in my late 30s I wrote up briefing notes for show presenters (on Young Talent Time) and tried out some film reviewing as a segment producer on Network Ten's Late NIght Oz with Don Lane. Through my 40s until my late 50s writing was for me a strictly utilitarian project: story pitches, turning technical research into story pitches for shows like Beyond 2000 and Beyond Tomorrow. After hours,  I was working up the memoir about the boy in the dress.  When the stress of TV work in L.A. brought on a horrendous case of shingles I returned to Oz, went back to Uni., and emerged with a PhD.  The academic style of writing produced a dissertation titled The Journey of the Queer 'I': Spirituality and Subjectivity in Life Narratives by some gay writers. My book-length study of the British expat. writer Christopher Isherwood (Mr Isherwood Changes Trains ) focused on his much misunderstood 40 year relationships with an Indian guru: Swami Prabhavananda of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society, a relationship that was an integral part of his life, dating from the late 1930s. I gave papers at academic conferences on themes from that study. I did my bit for the queer community by pulling together a diverse collection of essays around the issue of marriage equality in Australia: Speak Now.