Steele Going Strong

Image: Arthur Hoey Davis c.1910 Source: State Library of Victoria

Image: Arthur Hoey Davis c.1910
Source: State Library of Victoria

This week is Children’s Book Week and so I thought I would celebrate with a famous local author. While he wasn’t a children’s author Steele Rudd’s Dad and Dave stories were a household name in the 1930s and 1940s as people tuned in on the wireless each evening for another episode of the Rudd Family life.

Arthur Hoey Davis (Steele Rudd) was born in November 1868 at Drayton. He was the fifth son and eighth of thirteen children of Thomas and Mary Davis. Arthur attended the Emu Creek State School until he was 12. The Emu Creek State School was opened on 31 May, 1875 and is operational today. East Greenmount represents the setting for many of the author’s famous ‘Dad and Dave’ stories and a replica of the family home can be found near the school.

Arthur’s most popular work was a long running series of sketches based on the lives of his family on their selection. On Our Selection which became more widely known as Dad & Dave was reproduced in a large variety of formats including, print, stage, radio and film.

“Dad and Dave” first went to air in 1937 and ran for an amazing 16 years. It was created by George Edwards, a radio actor and producer famous for being able to play numerous characters. He was popularly known as The Man with a Thousand Voices. He played Dad until he died in 1953. The serial was based on Steele Rudd’s book On Our Selection, first published in 1899. The dramatic rights were purchased in 1912 by actor and entrepreneur Bert Bailey who played Dad on stage for almost 20 years, as well as in four films directed by Ken G. Hall in the 1930s. Australian radio audiences took to the serial with enthusiasm. It achieved extremely high audience ratings, made the mythical Snake Gully a much-discussed place, and had Australians of all ages whistling its theme song, ‘On the Road to Gundagai’.”

Arthur Davis died in the Brisbane General Hospital on 11 October 1935 of cancer, and was buried in Toowong Cemetery where a memorial stone was later placed over the grave in 1956.

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