Ruth Morris (1926 - ) was born in Victoria, where her father commanded the Army Garrison. She was educated at Melbourne University, taught, and in 1949 came to England for two years, where she worked on farms, and with the mentally and physically disabled. She moved back to Australia, and started writing The Runaway, basing it on a journey she’d made through Queensland in an ancient Ford. She also suffered some of her heroine Joanne’s privations; for some weeks she lived on two meals a day, both of them pumpkin and rice.
Finding the book: reasonably easy to find, though the paperback version isn’t as common as you’d think.
Sources and links
Dustjacket of The Runaway, first edition
Michael Joseph Ltd, London, 1961, 173 pp.
Random House, New York, 1962
Penguin Books, 1964, cover by Richard Kennedy
Joanne Mitchell is 12. She’s been passed about from relation to relation, and the book opens as she’s on her way to yet another aunt and uncle, to scrub and polish their farmhouse. When the time comes for Joanne to be passed on to another member of the family,she sets off with the sulky, pulled by her best friend, Darkie the horse, but the new aunt and uncle are nowhere to be found. Joanne cuts her hair, changes her name to Joe Casey, and sets off with her horse and her puppy.