Ion (Jack) Llewellyn Idriess 1889-1979

Dedicated to the Life and Works of

                Horrie the War Dog by Roland Perry

 

AS CORRESPONDENCE IS RECEIVED OR SENT
IT WILL BE ADDED TO THE FOOT OF THIS PAGE 

 

In 1945 Jack published his book “Horrie the Wog Dog” (Angus and Robertson). The book was written by Jack from material provided by Private Jim Moody (VX13091) who was an Australian soldier serving in 6th Division AIF in the Middle East during World War Two.

However there is another ending to the story that was first suggested and published by the author Anthony Hill. He published an abbreviated version of Horrie’s story in his book “Animal Heroes” (Penguin, 2005).

Now there is another version of Horrie's story. Roland Perry has written a dramatized version - "Horrie the War Dog" (Allen and Unwin, 2013). Perry imagines conversations between long-dead people and worse still he ignores "Horrie the Wog Dog" and even blames Jack for Horrie's demise. I have written to the publisher, Allen and Unwin and have their reply. The letters are self-explanatory.

More is to be revealed before this matter is settled! I do not believe there was actual plagiarism of Jim Moody's manuscript or the subsequent book "Horrie the Wog Dog" (in the sense of lifting passages of prose) but not only did Perry fail to acknowledge the work of Moody and Idriess, by claiming to have written Horrie's story "for the first time", he implicitly denied the existence of their work.

There is absolutely no doubt about the similarities (as the table below demonstrates) and at least on an ethical level, Perry's book should be withdrawn from sale.

_______________________________________________________________

 

Jack Idriess and Jim Moody collaborated in the writing of a book. They agreed to share the Royalties. So there are two sets of copyright material - Idriess' book and Jim's manuscript that initiated the Idriess/Moody book. I do not intend to get into this copyright issue any further but I think Sue Hines is quite wrong.

 

However, Ms Hines did not address the central point of my letter - on the back of the book Perry claimed to have written Horrie’s story “for the first time”.

 

She also avoided answering the concomitant observation that, by failing to acknowledge the existence of “Horrie the Wog Dog”, Perry implicitly denied the existence of the Idriess/Moody book.

 

Nor does Ms Hines address the outcome of my comparison of Perry's and Idriess' books - I found well over eighty indisputable events (and more that are debatable) from “Horrie the Wog Dog” that have been repeated in Perry’s book. They have been repeated in almost the same order as they appear in Idriess’ book. From this examination, (I said to Allen and Unwin) it is possible to infer that Perry had Idriess’ book at his elbow as he was writing his version of this great story. 

 

At the end of her letter Ms Hines wrote, "And on the moral side it is no more an abuse of Idriess' memory than any other retelling of a (sic) historical event is an abuse of any previous writer on the same subject". With this weaselly response Allen and Unwin are simply saying that no-one cares about Jack Idriess any more and they can do what they like with his work.

                          ________________________________________________________________ 

 

A COMPARISON OF THE EVENTS
IN HORRIE’S ADVENTURES
UNTIL HE ARRIVED IN AUSTRALIA

The first description of Horrie's adventures is in Jim Moody's manuscript submitted to Angus and Robertson around June 1943. After Jim and Jack had agreed to collaborate in turning Jim’s manuscript into a book, Jack sent a list of questions to Jim. Obviously, Jim replied to these questions one-by-one because there is a “tick” against each question. I do not have Jim’s replies but these are probably in Jack’s papers.

Then Jack’s “Horrie the Wog Dog was published in 1945.

Roland Perry published “Horrie the War Dog” (Allen and Unwin, 2013).

So what are the similarities?
From where did Perry get his information/inspiration?
The table below begins the task of answering these questions.

 

THIS TABLE STILL NEEDS FINALISATION (it is for illustration purposes only)

EVENT

IDRIESS

MOODY

PERRY

’Erb

 

2

 

Jim and Don meet Horrie

p3

3

P15

Horrie’s name

P7

3

P24

Horrie’s first dinner

P9

4

P29

Horrie’s first bath

 

5

 

Horrie the sock stealer

 

6

 

Horrie’s bunk

p12

6

P30

Parades

 

7

 

The Rebels

P15

----

P20

Training Horrie

P22

6

P34

Horrie’s toilet

P24

9

P38

Feather’s boots

P28

----

P36

The riot

P29

----

P42

Revenge for Horrie’s hurt

P30

----

P47

Smuggling Horrie to Greece

P31

10

P61

Whisky

P45

----

P70

Horrie’s mate Ben onboard the Chalka

P50

12

P73

Sea sickness

 

14

 

Horrie’s life jacket

P54

15

P74

Getting off the ship

 

16

 

Horrie under fire

P57

17

P76

Food shortage

 

19

 

Horrie and the stork

P63

20

P83

Horrie’s winter coat

P64

21

P88

Strafing

P67

22

P95

Detecting planes

P69

23

P98

Near miss

P74

----

P101

War dog

P78

----

P108

The log

P79

24

P106

The Greek woman’s food cache

P83

----

P116

Retreat

P84

27

P126

Dead children

P85

----

P119

Latrine trench

P86

26

P108

The fifth columnist

P89

----

P123

Cattle

P92

----

P126

Don and Murchie missing

P93

----

PP128,132

Murchie found

P95

----

P135

Don found

P100

----

P139

Retreat

P103

27

P142

Anzac Day

P104

----

P140

Chooks

P105

28

P144

Hospitality

P106

----

P144

Evacuation

P108

29

P151

Plane shot down

 

30

 

Crow’s-nest

P112

31

P153

Shipwreck

P114

33

P155

Crete

P117

35

P161

Horrietta

P118

37

P163

Messenger

P124

----

P167

Horrie disappears

 

39

 

Food shortage

 

40

 

Ammunition box

P125

41

P174

War wound

P125

43

P178

Big Jim and Gogg

P127

----

P182

Watching for thieves

P128

45

P183

Chasing Arabs

P131

47

P190

The butcher

 

49

 

Bus race

P131

50

P202

Horrie’s ID

P133

50

P203

Jerusalem

P135

51

P204

Horrie disappeared

P138

56

P198

Murchie transfers

P!39

----

P200

Imshi

P141

58

P212

Horrie disappears again

P149

59

P215

The uniform

P151

59

P229

Arabs on the radio

 

60

 

Mouth organ

P153

60

P214

With or Without

P155

----

P218

The brawl on the bus

P158

----

P222

The sock game

 

64

 

Horrie gets sick

P162

64

P233

Imshi again

P163

65

P235

Rounding up the black men

 

65

 

Horrie attacks a wolf

P172

68

P239

Imshi moves in

P175

71

P235

The sledge

P176

71

P243

Telephone line

 

72

 

Waiting in Palestine

P178

73

P244

Planning for home

P184

?

P249

Veterinary inspection

 

74

 

Palestine Police

P190

75

P245

The hideout

P192

76

P250

Tent inspection

P201

77

P253

Parade in hiding

P204

78

P256

The improved pack

P205

79

P256

Suffering in the heat

P210

82

P258

The Rebel’s cabin

P211

83

P261

Hobo

P222

----

P267

Disembarkation in Adelaide

p226

----

P270

Melbourne

P231

----

P271

 

FINDING HORRIE

From all these similarities between Perry’s book and Jim’s manuscript and “Horrie the Wog Dog” I would like to examine just one in detail – the very first "event" where Jim found Horrie.

JIM’S MANUSCRIPT

His age was about six months when we found him, and he was completely lost and trying very hard to satisfy his puppy appetite by catching lizards that darted from rock to rock. The little puppy seemed happy enough in his work as we stood watching him, but his efforts were not meeting with much success so I decided to give him a hand by moving a rock under which a particularly fat lizard had evaded him. When he realised my intention his little stub tail wagged furiously, and as I moved the rock he darted in to the kill only to finish up with a mouthful of sand while the allusive lizard scurried under another rock. Horrie quickly followed with a yelp of anger, then turned to me with such a look of determination that I did not have the heart to laugh at him. I suggested that it might be a good idea if he came back to the camp for a feed, at least the meat does not move as quickly as a lizard and there is not quite so much sand with it, so Horrie thought it may be a good idea.

JACK’S QUESTIONS TO JIM MOODY

A. Please describe, in all detail that you remember, the dog when he first joined up. Colour, size, anything at all about him. And as he later developed any characteristics whatever. As described now, he is but a “shadow dog”. Hence, it is very necessary that any habit, any peculiarity, any characteristics should be described, both on adoption and as he grew, so that a picture of a “live”   dog can be quickly built up in the readers mind. 

As you read the questions you will repeatedly see “give names of cobbers, scraps of conversation etc. This will all help to build up the book. Not only the dog, but the men closely associated with him must be “living characters” for the book to live.

Was it on an expedition to the old Roman city that you found Horrie? What were the names of your companions? Do you remember any scraps of conversation re the dog? For instance, who suggested name of Wog-dog? Any particular reason for the name Horrie?

IDRIESS – “HORRIE THE WOG DOG”

Hearing the sound of the approaching cycle my attention was attracted by a whitish object. In surprise I saw it-a small pup racing from rock to rock, a grim earnestness in his obviously tiring movements. He poked his small nose under rock after rock, striving with might and main to lever up the impossible weight, only to dash away to another rock. As he panted past I fancied his eyes held the glare of despair. Not even noticing my presence, his straining attention was directed to the lizards he was so futilely chasing.

“Poor little beggar,” I thought, “thin as a scarecrow, he’s desperately hungry.”

 “What is it?” inquired Don as he dismounted.

 “A funny little white pup; looks as if he hasn’t had a feed for days.”

 “A pup! Away out here! Where on earth could he have come from?”

 “Perhaps he’s been abandoned by some Italian family who feared the bombing at Alexandria.”

 “He’s just about knocked up.”

 “Yes.”

 “Do you reckon he’s an Arab dog?” I asked doubtfully.

 “Could be anything from the look of him,” replied Don. “A foreigner for certain. Doesn’t understand our language.”

 “Here pup, good dog, here boy!” cajoled Don.

He ignored us for a while; then as if for the first time attracted by human voices, he stood and pantingly surveyed us, quaintly defiant and suspicious.

“What a comical little joker,” laughed Don.

He was funny. His coat was a dusty white emphasized by a sandy-coloured stripe running along his back. On quaint, stubby legs he stood barely a foot high. The front legs were bowed like those of a miniature bull-dog, his long body out of proportion to his height. His extraordinarily intelligent little face was pinched and forlorn, with an expression now changing from dire suspicion to one of inquiring hope. His stub end of a tail rose erect; his sharp little ears alternately stood to attention then dropped at ease.

“He’s doubtful about us,” said Don. “He’s not sure whether he can trust us.”

“He certainly looks like he feels. I suppose the poor little fellow has been chivvied from pillar to post.”

To our sympathetic voices the outcast’s tail wagged invitingly. Then he regarded us in expressive imitation of a question mark.

“He thinks we might help him,” grinned Don. “Come here puppy, old boy.”

The pup answered with a knowing leer.

“He’s not to be won with salt on his tail,” smiled Don.

“We’ll have to win his confidence somehow.”

We advanced towards him, cracking our fingers. He stood his ground.

“He’s frowning,” laughed Don. “Won’t give an inch of ground if he can help it.”

Then I developed a brain wave.

“Let’s chase lizards with him,” I suggested.

I gave him a hand by removing a rock under which a particularly fat lizard had evaded him. His little stub wagged furiously; he charged in to the kill only to finish up with a mouthful of sand while the lizard darted under another stone. The pup wheeled around with a yelp of frustration, gazed up with such an air of “Now, wouldn’t it?” that I hadn’t the heart to laugh at him.

We turned over another stone, and as a lizard scuttled away the pup was after it with an excited yap. Again and again his little stub tail waggled thanks for helping him, he chased lizard after lizard but all escaped him. He gazed up with irresistible brown eyes appealing for further assistance.

“Please take this seriously,” he seemed to say. “I’m very hungry.”

He would let us touch him now.

I could feel his little ribs were only just covered by his silky, short-haired coat.

“He doesn’t seem to have been doing well,” I remarked.

“Poor little pup,” sympathised Don, and patted his head. “You’re a little outcast and far from home. You’ve got no home at all now.”

We gained his complete confidence. Wearily he rested his chin on my arm and closed his eyes.

“What are you going to do with him?” asked Don doubtfully.

But I knew he knew what we would do.

“You’ll have to be jolly careful,” cautioned Don. “Pets are frowned on, while the strict rule is that no pets are to be allowed to the troops when we march from camp.”

“How many rules have the Rebels broken?” I asked.

Don grinned.

It was a problem to get him back to camp. “Impossible to ride over this country one hand and hold the dog in the other,” advised Don. “You’d better leave your machine and ride pillion.”

It was a rough trip back to camp, but the little dog appeared quite contented. We got him to the outskirts of the camp, hid him, then doubled back for my cycle.

 

PERRY – “HORRIE THE WAR DOG”

On this day, 19 January 1941, Gill was pushing his machine harder than ever to catch up to Moody in their daily game of acclimatising to the desert. The lead rider would charge ahead on a dead straight course and after a specified time put compass instructions on a piece of yellow lined paper under a pile of six rocks-always six. The follower would have to find the rocks and pursue the course again, dead straight until the next rock pile and so on.

Gill spotted Moody’s bike first as he careered over a dip in the desert. Then he saw him standing, pipe in hand, about 80 metres away examining something. At first Gill thought it must have been a rock. The nuggetty Moody, an amateur geologist, had a fascination with any formations, even carrying stone fragments in his kit in the hope of taking them back to Australia. But this time Moody was stock-still, watching. Gill approached. Moody turned and waved as he heard the roar of the oncoming bike.

“What’s up, mate?” Gill asked as he stood his bike and removed his goggles.

Moody pointed to a small white animal about twenty metres from him.

“Looks like a …” Gill began, “a pup.”

“Yeah. It’s got floppy ears. I’d say it’s only a few months old.”

“I saw one like that in Alexandria. Some sort of Gypo terrier. Got bowlegs like a bulldog, but the face says terrier. And that long body looks like some sort of sausage dog. That stub of a tail says he’s been doctored.” 

The dog was no more than a foot high. It seemed oblivious of the company it had attracted. His mind was on catching geckos. He would lay flat and wait until he noticed movement in the sand. His floppy ears straightened and fell as it picked up sound in the near-soundless terrain. Then he would pounce. But his quarry seemed to be too quick. For a moment the dog had been distracted by a bird of prey circling high above. It would have been looking for snakes, asps or other reptiles. Or perhaps it was waiting for the little dog to tire.

“What’s the bloody little beggar doing out here, miles from anywhere?” Gill asked.

“Might have been abandoned by Bedouins.”

“Maybe.”

“Or Italian refugees fleeing west?”

Gill moved close.

Eh, bambino!” he called in a nasally drawl. The dog ignored him and did not look his way. “Can’t be Italian.”

“With your vowel-crunching Aussie accent?” Moody said with a laugh.

They moved close. The pup noticed. It looked up. He was alert. His body language was defensive as he backed away a few paces and then stood his ground. He growled. He bared sharp, strong incisors for such a modestly sized mutt. Experiences with humans may not always have been good.

Moody took a sandwich from his pack and offered it to him. The dog was suspicious. He didn’t even sniff it.

“I like his attitude,” Gill said, “this little fella can’t be bought even if he’s starving and by the look of his rib cage, he’s not far off.” Gill dropped to his knees, as if he too were searching for lizards. Soon both men were copying the dog in its predatory games. They noticed the anguish in his face as his attacks proved fruitless. He was weak but determined. Yet he persisted trying to lift stones with his nose to find the disappeared geckos, which were several wriggles ahead of him. After a few minutes he took a breather, looking plaintively at his new companions whom he was still not prepared to trust. There was a frown of frustration in his look. His tongue was out.

Moody took a water bottle from his kit and a small bowl. He put water in it and placed it a few metres from the dog. He looked at it, then back at Gill and then the dish again. He waddled over to the bowl. He sniffed it for several seconds before drinking in such haste that it was obvious he had not had water for some time.

“Flat-out like a lizard-hunter drinking,” Gill commented with a gentle laugh. “I really like the little bastard.” He looked at Moody. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Moody nodded. The drink had won over the dog. He wagged the stub of his tail and licked both men in turn, who sat in the sand with him. The dog rested his tired little head on Moody’s arm. This sign of affection, but also pathetic resignation for his plight, touched both men.

“Can’t leave him out here,” Gill said, looking up at the hawk-like creature, circling lower. “That damned buzzard is easy big enough to whisk him away in his claws.” He glanced at Moody. “What do you reckon?”

“Let’s take him back to camp,” Moody smiled.

“Good idea,” Gill said, “we can work out what to do with it there. At least we can give the little bloke a decent feed and drink.” He looked up at the big bird above. “And deprive something else of a very decent feed,” They wandered close to their bikes. The little dog waddled after them, his tail wagging. He looked up with a querulous, even hopeful expression.

They decided that it would be dangerous to ride with one hand free and one holding the dog. Instead Moody picked him up. The dog did not object but instead tried to lick Moody’s face. Then Moody rode pillion with the dog as Gill started his machine with a roar that had the big bird above winging away higher.

They would come back for Moody’s bike later. 

 

IDRIESS

PERRY

Jim Moody and Don Gill were riding their motorcycles in the Egyptian desert.

Perry elaborated (dramatized? re-created?) this fact that was not mentioned in Jim’s manuscript.

… a small pup racing from rock to rock, a grim earnestness in his obviously tiring movements.

His mind was on catching geckos. He would lay flat and wait until he noticed movement in the sand … Then he would pounce. But his quarry seemed to be too quick.

He poked his small nose under rock after rock, striving with might and main to lever up the impossible weight, only to dash away to another rock.

Yet he persisted trying to lift stones with his nose to find the disappeared geckos, which were several wriggles ahead of him.

As he panted past I fancied his eyes held the glare of despair.

They noticed the anguish in his face as his attacks proved fruitless.

Not even noticing my presence, his straining attention was directed to the lizards he was so futilely chasing.

 

It seemed oblivious of the company it had attracted. His mind was on catching geckos.

He ignored us for a while; then as if for the first time attracted by human voices, he stood and pantingly surveyed us, quaintly defiant and suspicious.

They moved close. The pup noticed. It looked up. He was alert. His body language was defensive as he backed away a few paces and then stood his ground. He growled. He bared sharp, strong incisors for such a modestly sized mutt.

On quaint, stubby legs he stood barely a foot high. The front legs were bowed like those of a miniature bull-dog, his long body out of proportion to his height.

The dog was no more than a foot high.

 

Got bowlegs like a bulldog, but the face says terrier. And that long body looks like some sort of sausage dog. That stub of a tail says he’s been doctored.”

His extraordinarily intelligent little face was pinched and forlorn, with an expression now changing from dire suspicion to one of inquiring hope.

Moody took a sandwich from his pack and offered it to him. The dog was suspicious. He didn’t even sniff it.

 

His stub end of a tail rose erect; his sharp little ears alternately stood to attention then dropped at ease.

… It’s got floppy ears. I’d say it’s only a few months old. His floppy ears straightened and fell as it picked up sound in the near-soundless terrain.

I gave him a hand by removing a rock under which a particularly fat lizard had evaded him. We turned over another stone, and as a lizard scuttled away the pup was after it with an excited yap. Again and again his little stub tail waggled thanks for helping him, he chased lizard after lizard but all escaped him.

Gill dropped to his knees, as if he too were searching for lizards. Soon both men were copying the dog in its predatory games. They noticed the anguish in his face as his attacks proved fruitless.

The pup wheeled around with a yelp of frustration, gazed up with such an air of “Now, wouldn’t it?” that I hadn’t the heart to laugh at him.

After a few minutes he took a breather, looking plaintively at his new companions whom he was still not prepared to trust. There was a frown of frustration in his look.

He gazed up with irresistible brown eyes appealing for further assistance.

He looked up with a querulous, even hopeful expression.

 

He would let us touch him now.

The drink had won over the dog. He wagged the stub of his tail and licked both men in turn, who sat in the sand with him.

I could feel his little ribs were only just covered by his silky, short-haired coat.

… this little fella can’t be bought even if he’s starving and by the look of his rib cage, he’s not far off.

We gained his complete confidence. Wearily he rested his chin on my arm and closed his eyes.

The dog rested his tired little head on Moody’s arm. This sign of affection, but also pathetic resignation for his plight, touched both men.

But I knew he knew what we would do.

He looked at Moody. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Moody nodded.

It was a problem to get him back to camp. “Impossible to ride over this country one hand and hold the dog in the other,” advised Don. “You’d better leave your machine and ride pillion.”

They decided that it would be dangerous to ride with one hand free and one holding the dog. Instead Moody picked him up. The dog did not object but instead tried to lick Moody’s face. Then Moody rode pillion with the dog … .

It was a rough trip back to camp, but the little dog appeared quite contented. We got him to the outskirts of the camp, hid him, then doubled back for my cycle.

They would come back for Moody’s bike later.

COMMENT

From where did Perry get his information? Obviously it was not from Jim’s sparse manuscript. Did he have a copy of Jim’s responses to Jack’s questions? This option is not likely but even if he had this information it should have been acknowledged. The most likely source of Perry’s information was from “Horrie the Wog Dog’ – the book on which Jack Idriess and Jim Moody collaborated and shared the royalties.

_______________________________________________________________

LETTER TO ALLEN AND UNWIN 11 November 2013 

The General Manager

Allen and Unwin, Publishers

PO Box 8500
St Leonards, NSW 1590

Dear Sir/Madam,

I refer to your recent release of Roland Perry’s book “Horrie the War Dog”.

You may or may not be aware that in 1945 Ion Llewellyn Idriess published a book “Horrie the Wog Dog” (Angus and Robertson). The book was written by Idriess from material provided by (and in collaboration with) Private Jim Moody (VX13091) who was an Australian soldier serving in 6th Division AIF in the Middle East during World War Two. The book is written in the first person as though Moody is telling the story.

I have now read Perry’s book and compared it with the book written by Idriess.

Perry’s book is a self-admitted dramatization in which it is impossible to sort out the facts from Perry’s imagination. Perry does not acknowledge Idriess and where he does mention Idriess he does so in an off-hand belittling manner. For example, when he first mentions Idriess he wrote, “Idriess had written about Anzacs in the Middle East in World War 1” (p280) when by 1945 Idriess had written twentynine books on war, mining/prospecting, biography, short stories, indigenous people, and the development of Australia. He had also published thousands of newspaper and magazine articles. His books had sold by the millions. Indeed, the book Perry so lightly dismisses, “The Desert Column”, went to seven or eight editions. By comparison, Perry’s own book “The Australian Light Horse” (Hatchette, 2009) seems to have already run its course.

However, that is not my main concern. The fact is that on the blurb on the back of Perry’s book he writes, “Best selling author Roland Perry tells this remarkable story for the first time”. This is just not true.

 

Apart from Idriess’ book, Anthony Hill told the story in “Animal Heroes”. Perry did not acknowledge that book (although he did acknowledge talking to Hill). Hill’s book was an important source for Perry because it was Hill who first brought to light the doubt about Horrie’s fate. But what about the book “Corporal Horrie? And what about accounts of the story written in the Herald/Sun, the Australian War Memorial and even Wikipedia? At the least Perry knew about the books by Idriess and Hill so this statement was a deliberate lie.

There is a more serious point arising from the failure to acknowledge other authors. When I compared Perry’s book with Idriess’s book I found well over eighty indisputable events (and more that are debatable) from “Horrie the Wog Dog” that have been repeated in Perry’s book. They have been repeated in almost the same order as they appear in Idriess’s book. From this examination, it is possible to infer that Perry had Idriess’s book at his elbow as he was writing his version of this great story.

 

By claiming to have written Horrie’s story “for the first time” and by failing to acknowledge the existence of “Horrie the Wog Dog”, Perry implicitly denied the existence of Idriess’s book. Perry then (without any acknowledgement) included incident after incident in almost the same chronological order as they appear in “Horrie the Wog Dog”.

 

I am not a lawyer but I wonder.Could this be construed as plagiarism – did Perry wrongfully appropriate and unfairly publish Idriess’ (and Moody’s) thoughts and ideas by representing those ideas as his own work?  

 

However, I am mainly concerned with the abuse of Idriess’ memory. Perry has shown no respect for the life and work of one of Australia’s greatest authors.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Coutts
11 November 2013

________________________________________________________________ 

 

LETTER TO ALLEN AND UNWIN 18 November 2013 

The General Manager

Allen and Unwin, Publishers

PO Box 8500
St Leonards, NSW 1590

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

I am yet to receive even an acknowledgement of the receipt of my letter of 11 November concerning Roland Perry’s book “Horrie the War Dog”. By the way, Perry’s title, “Horrie the War Dog” seems too similar to Idriess’ “Horrie the Wog Dog” but I will leave that to Idriess Enterprises.

However, I have now learned that Mr Perry also had access to Leonie Moody’s book, “Cpl Horrie”. This information has added another level of intensity to my enquiry:

1.         There are now three books (and other material) to which Mr Perry had access:

            (a)        Idriess’ “Horrie the Wog Dog”,
(b)        Hill’s “Animal Heroes”,
(c)        Sources mentioned in my first letter, and now,
(d)        Leonie Moody’s book, “Cpl Horrie”.

 3.        It seems to me that (relative to the questions I put to you) two points are clear:

            (a)        Mr Perry claimed to have written the story “for the first time”, and
            (b)        he did not acknowledge the books of any of the previous authors.

I look forward to your response to the questions put in my letter of 11 November.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Rob Coutts
18 November 2013

 

________________________________________________________________ 

 

LETTER FROM ALLEN AND UNWIN 25 November 2013 

_______________________________________________________________

 

 

LETTER TO ALLEN AND UNWIN 1 DECEMBER 2013 

 

Ms Sue Hines
Group Publishing Editor

Allen and Unwin
PO Box 8500

St Leonards

NSW 1590

 

Dear Ms Hines,

 

I refer to your letter of 20 November (copy attached). I intend sending a letter to the media organisations that reviewed Roland Perry’s book but in fairness I thought I should offer you a chance to comment.

DRAFT On 19 October 2013 the Weekend Australian Magazine contained a review of a book by Roland Perry, “Horrie the War Dog”. ETC.

Yours sincerely,
Rob Coutts
1 December 2013

 


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As at 16 December there has been no response from Allen and Unwin so the following letter has been distributed widely. There were reviews of Perry's book on the ABC, The Courier Mail and The Australian. As at 12 January 2014 - still no word from Perry or Allen and Unwin. HAVE YOU SEEN ANY OTHER REVIEWS? PLEASE LET ME KNOW:                 contact@robcoutts.com.au

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RECYCLING LITERATURE

A question. When is it permissible for a contemporary author to take the story-line from an old out-of-print book and recycle it as if for the first time? I believe this has recently happened to a book written by Ion Llewellyn Idriess nearly seventy years ago.

Idriess is the invisible man of Australian literature. For today’s literati he is regarded as just a journeyman opportunist but at his peak of his fame almost every Australian had read one of his books. He sold more than three million books during the Great Depression when Australia's population was less than seven million. Today some of his language is regarded as inappropriate but he did not invent the attitudes of his time. And he is frequently charged with peddling untruths. Nevertheless, Idriess was a master storyteller who produced fifty-three books and innumerable press and magazine articles. Sadly, few people under fifty would even recognise his name.

The last of Idriess’ books was published nearly forty-five years ago and he has been dead for more than thirty years. So, can a story-line from one of Idriess’ books be recycled by a contemporary author? Does it really matter if someone borrows his ideas?

I think it does matter even if there is no clear issue of plagiarism or a breach of copyright. Idriess’ place in Australian literature should be respected and at least for ethical reasons, if someone uses his published material, his work should be acknowledged. I refer particularly to Idriess’ thirty-first book published in 1945. It was the story of a little white pup called Horrie the Wog Dog and that became the title of the Idriess book.

Horrie’s story started in the Egyptian desert during the Second World War. Private Jim Moody was an Australian soldier serving in 6th Division AIF in the Middle East. While Moody was out on patrol he found Horrie in the Egyptian desert. Moody smuggled Horrie from Egypt to Greece, to Crete, Palestine, Syria, back to Palestine and then to Australia.

Around 1942/43 Moody decided to tell Horrie’s story. While he was still serving in the army in New Guinea Moody wrote an 18 000 word manuscript and submitted it to Angus and Robertson. Walter Cousins of Angus and Robertson gave the manuscript to Idriess and in June 1943 Idriess wrote to Moody suggesting a collaboration to “make a book” of it.

Moody agreed and the two men corresponded as the book took shape. By March 1945 the galley proofs were complete and the book was published later that year. The book was also published in America as “Dog of the Desert” (Bobbs-Merrill, 1945).

The book “Horrie the Wog Dog” ends on a sad note – Horrie was destroyed by quarantine authorities. However, in his book “Animal Heroes” (Penguin, 2005), Anthony Hill suggested another (controversial) ending to the story. Moody was said to have surrendered a substitute dog for destruction and Horrie lived out his life in Corryong in Victoria.  

One of Moody’s daughters, Leonie, wrote a book “Cpl Horrie” based largely on Moody’s manuscript and other accounts of the story were published in the press. Indeed the reports of Horrie’s death raised such a furore that death threats were made to quarantine officials.

Now, nearly seventy years after the Idriess book was published, Roland Perry has released “Horrie the War Dog” (Allen and Unwin, 2013), a book that is strikingly similar to “Horrie the Wog Dog”. Ms. Sue Hines, a representative of Allen and Unwin, has explicitly denied plagiarism or a breach of copyright but Perry has some questions to answer. For example, it is not clear whether Perry used “Horrie the Wog Dog” as his source of material but it seems likely.  

Even if he did use the Idriess/Moody material, Ms. Hines has argued that no-one can copyright the facts of the life of an historical figure; “history belongs to us all”. Does this mean the first story is fair game for anyone who chooses to rewrite it? Ms. Hines argued that retelling the story allows different interpretations of the events set out in the first book.

While Ms Hines has explicitly denied plagiarism the definitions are murky. Plagiarism (it seems) contains two elements, (a) the imitation or wrongful appropriation of the ideas, language or thoughts of another author, and (b) publishing those ideas, language or thoughts as one's own original work.

Did Perry imitate or wrongfully appropriate the ideas, language or thoughts of Idriess and Moody? Did he use the Idriess book as his source? Perry probably used one of the few copies of "Cpl Horrie" but this would not have provided enough material for his book. The events in Perry’s version of the story seem too similar to those in “Horrie the Wog Dog”.

On this point Ms Hines responded: “There are many versions and retelling of historical events. All are legitimate – each must be allowed its own interpretation of the meaning of those facts. Each book adds to our understanding of a particular historical event.” These words might allay the suspicion that Perry had the book “Horrie the Wog Dog” at his elbow but for clarity Perry needs to explain his sources.

In the absence of this explanation the issue cannot be finalised one way or the other but at the least there is an ethical issue. Perry’s book is predicated on a false assertion. On the back of the book and on the publisher’s website it is claimed that Perry has written the story “for the first time”. This is obviously not true and moreover the claim is deliberately false.

Ms Hines has admitted: “We agree that there have been various books published about Jim Moody and Horrie including the Idriess book, and our own recent publication by Roland Perry”. Is this is an example of Perry publishing Idriess’ ideas, language or thoughts as his own original work? Without Perry’s explanation the matter is not clear but Perry certainly did not write Horrie’s story “for the first time” – Ion Idriess and Jim Moody did.

Finally, I object to Perry’s disrespect for Ion Idriess. Idriess wrote and sold more books than Perry ever will. He slighted Idriess as an author and he got it wrong when he blamed Idriess for Horrie’s seizure by quarantine authorities. If Perry used Idriess’ work he should have respectfully acknowledged his source.