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About the book
  • Published: 1 July 2011
  • ISBN: 9781742745374
  • Imprint: Random House Australia
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 384

Delinquent Angel




'[Georgeff's] superb biography is . . . an important addition to the history of our literature and our understanding of its human genesis and cost.' - Kathy Hunt, Bulletin

'[Georgeff's] superb biography is . . . an important addition to the history of our literature and our understanding of its human genesis and cost.' - Kathy Hunt, Bulletin

Shelton Lea was born secretly, and adopted in the most bizarre circumstances into a high-profile family. Growing up he was told he would never inherit the family fortune; that he had been adopted as a playmate for the natural children. Here began a life of extremes and excesses.

Family dynamics produced disastrous outcomes and his adoptive mother placed him in a psychiatric institution at the age of three. He escaped from boys' homes, lived with gypsies, Aborigines, in doorways, in parks and went to prisons along the east coast of Australia. But genetics propelled his ascendance.

He was born with tremendous gifts and when, as a teenager in a putrid lock-up, he discovered the writings of Ezra Pound, he knew the path his life would take.

Reports of the legendary Shelton Lea spread. He was a romantic, bohemian outlaw – charming, insolent and contemptuous of authority. He stepped far beyond the bounds of propriety, encouraging comparisons to Rimbaud and Villon. When he died he took his wizard words, his mesmerising performance, his rabble rousing, and he was hailed as a seer of our age.

  • Pub date: 1 July 2011
  • ISBN: 9781742745374
  • Imprint: Random House Australia
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 384

About the Author

Diana Georgeff

Diana Georgeff is an Australian journalist who has worked and lived for many years in London, Italy and the USA. She specialised in politics and social issues and more recently in cultural history, travel and food. She has worked in Australia and London for ACP, the National Times and the ABC.


Praise for Delinquent Angel

“This is a well-researched, sympathetic and worthwhile book . . . you should read it for yourself”

John Tranter, The Australian

“In this book you will discover one of the more bizarre life stories you’re likely to read”

Jon Faine, ABC Radio

“Diana Georgeff’s biography is essential reading”

Gig Ryan, The Age

“Shelton Lea deserves to be remembered as an insurgent poet always challenging the status quo”

Lawrence Ferlingtetti

“Shelton Lea is the Jack Kerouac of Australian poetry”

Barry Dickins

“Riveting to read Diana Georgeff's oeuvre on Shelton Lea: poets tell us unbelievable stories, but they are always true – a kind of truth only poets know”

Mirka Mora

“The heartbreaking story of a ruined child poet whose wounds never healed. Diana Georgeff's tireless research, and her calm insight and intelligence, make this a riveting biography that moves and horrifies in turn”

Diana Gribble

“I cannot imagine a better name than Delinquent Angel for this beautifully written book. A growing brain needs love as surely as it needs food and oxygen. Without love, a rejected boy becomes delinquent, sheltering from his fear behind arrogance, alcohol or aggression. This is the story of Shelton Lea, in whom an angel of poetry and compassion survived and flourished, allowing a delinquent to be both lovable and remarkable.”

Julian Short

“Her superb biography is beyond the poignant portrait of the artist and the man, an important addition to the history of our literature and our understanding of its human genesis and cost.”

Kathy Hunt, Bulletin

“Delinquent is a beautifully crafted and deeply moving story.”

Rod Moran, West Australian

“This is a superb biography of poet Shelton Lea . . . It does what biographies at their very best do . . . and then something quite extraordinary”

Kathleen Noonan, Courier Mail

“This biography can be enjoyably read by those who never knew his legends, rumours and yarns. It is told with passion and detachment.”

Alan Wearne, Sydney Morning Herald

“The material Georgeff uncovers and then writes about with such calm controlled prose delivers a terrible punch”

Angela Bennie, Sydney Morning Herald


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