Pattie Wright began her career as a producer and director in the Australian film industry.
Her interest in writing about ex-POW’s began with a simple personal desire to learn more about Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop and the prisoners of war who were enslaved on the Thai-Burma railway during World War Two.
Many hours, days, weeks and years later, Pattie became a published author and expert on the subject of ex-POWs from the Line.
Over the last decade, her research into this history has involved well over a hundred interviews in Australia, Britain and Japan with ex-POWs, as well as Imperial Japanese Army guards from the Line. She travelled to the POW camps in Japan and along the Thai-Burma Railway. From these efforts came her first book, the highly acclaimed The Men Of The Line (MUP-Miegunyah, 2008).
In her exploration of Australian POW experiences, one particular man stood out: Ray Parkin.
Aside from his resolute steadfastness, he was able to see beauty in his world while surrounded by horrendous suffering, and to appreciate small acts of humanity while enduring the most terrible of atrocities.
Ray captured the full spectrum of his experiences in both images and words, being equally potent as an artist and a writer. He encompassed the mind of a philosopher and the hard-bitten determination of a Navy sailor. Ray endured unbelievable privations and yet did not allow them to define him, returning to Australia to raise a family and continuing to paint, sketch and write.
Pattie’s fascination with and respect for Ray led her to interview him many times, often with a film crew assisting in recording Ray’s stories. The culmination of these conversations and many hundreds of hours of further research and writing is Ray Parkin’s Odyssey, the first full and comprehensive record of the extraordinary life and times of a unique Australian man.
The journey, as that is what it is, has been a privilege. These ex-POW’s are well met, wonderful men from a great generation. They have given me more than I can say. To all the young faces in the black and white photos in battalion histories that I don’t know and to those that I have been lucky enough to meet, my thanks is all I can give. Thank you.’ - Pattie Wright, 27 September 2012.