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About the Author: Morris L. West

Morris Langlo West was an Australian novelist and playwright, best known for his novels The Devil's Advocate (1959), The Shoes of the Fisherman (1963), and The Clowns of God (1981).
His works often were focused on international politics and the role of the Roman Catholic Church in international affairs. One of his most famous works, The Shoes of the Fisherman (1963), envisioned the election and career of a Slavic Pope, 15 years before the historic election of Karol Wojtyła as Pope John Paul II.
He was born in St Kilda, Victoria and attended Christian Brothers College, East St Kilda. He graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1937, and worked as a teacher in New South Wales and Tasmania. He spent 12 years in a monastery of the Christian Brothers, taking annual vows, but left in 1941 without taking final vows. That same year, he married (this first marriage did not survive), and enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. He was seconded from the RAAF to work for Billy Hughes for a time. After making a name in producing radio serials, he left Australia in 1955 to write, and lived in Austria, Italy, England and the United States, finally returning to Australia in 1980. During this time he had a stint as the Vatican correspondent for the Daily Mail. His son, C. Chris O’Hanlon, said that he spent his first 12 birthdays in 12 different countries.
West was awarded the 1959 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Devil's Advocate. In the early 1960s, he helped found the Australian Society of Authors. He presented the 1986 Playford Lecture.
In 1993, he announced that he had written his last book, and a formal valedictory dinner was held in his honour. However, he found he could not retire as he had planned, and wrote a further three novels and two non-fiction books.
Morris West died while working at his desk on the final chapters of his novel The Last Confession, about the trials and imprisonment of Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake for heresy in 1600. Bruno was a figure with whom West had long sympathized and even identified. In 1969 he had published a blank-verse play The Heretic on the same subject. This was staged in London in 1970. Of all his writings, he said this play had "the most of me in it". In 1998 he converted it into a libretto for an opera, which was set to music by Colin Brumby, but it has not been staged. In early 1999 he also contemplated a film script based on the play. He wrote The Last Confession in the form of the diary that Bruno might have written knowing that execution was approaching. The diary was intended to cover the period 21 December 1599 to 17 February 1600, however it covers just 14 days; the entry West was writing when he died was dated 4 January 1600, and he had written only about half as much as he had intended. Nevertheless, the last paragraph he ever wrote was poignant: I can write no more today … who knows to what nightmares I might wake. West himself had had several severe heart attacks, and had undergone double-bypass surgery. Murray Waldren writes: "This is a book written by a man aware death is imminent about a man aware execution is near". West’s family decided to publish it in 2000, in an incomplete form and without any editing, leaving readers free to imagine how the story might have ended. It has a foreword by Thomas Keneally, an editor’s note by his publisher Angelo Loukakis, and an epilogue co-written by his assistant Beryl Barraclough and his widow Joy West.


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Paperback, Published in Sep 2003 by Toby Press

ISBN10: 1902881834 | ISBN13: 9781902881836

A Russian - and the youngest cardinal of all - is elected as the new pope. This is the story of Kiril Lakota, a cardinal who reluctantly steps out from behind the Iron Curtain to lead the Catholic Church and to grapple with the many issues facing the contemporary world.

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