Pulp Friday: Flat 4 Kings Cross

“A raw and revealing novel of abandoned passions in Sydney’s twilight zone.”

Today’s Pulp Friday book is Flat 4 Kings Cross, by Geoffrey Tolhurst, published by Horwitz Publications in 1963.

As I’ve previously written on this site, the early to mid-sixties was the transition point during which the Australian pulp publishing industry stopped relying completely on reprints of overseas titles and stories and characters set in the US, and started to pump out stories set locally.

As was the case in the UK and America, much of this was kitchen sink and exploitation fiction, often dressed up as lurid exposés of drug use and sexual promiscuity. These fed off mainstream society’s fears of youth rebellion and changing sexual standards. The setting for much of this work was Sydney’s Kings Cross, which during the sixties, seventies and eighties was Australia best-known center of drug use and prostitution.

Prostitutes, beatniks, con men, drug dealers, bent cops, organized crime lords, innocent tourists and American servicemen on leave all rubbed shoulders in  ‘the Cross’ as it is referred to locally. To this, local pulp authors added Chinese Triad gangs enslaving white women, witches and warlocks and a host of other less believable characters.

Flat 4 Kings Cross is a great example of this sub-genre of Australian pulp. The back cover blurb gives you all you need to know about the plot.

“Drugs, Prostitution, Gambling.

This was the life Carla found at Kings Cross, in the neon jungle of Australia’s most notorious network of vice. And this was the life that eventually led her to tragedy – and a love transcending all others in its passion and fire. A startling insight into the life behind the Cross, its rawness and brutality.”

The front cover of Flat Four Kings Cross makes it clear there were others in the series, but I don’t know what these are.

The only information I could dig up on the author comes via local pulp scholar Toni Johnson Woods. Tolhurst was one of six pseudonyms used by an author known as Rena Cross. She also wrote under Rena Crane, Rebecca Dee, John Duffy, James Christine and Karen Miller.

Further information about her career is sadly unavailable.


5 Responses

  1. Nice one! And as you’d be well aware, Geoffrey Tolhurst may be one of Rena Cross’ pseudonyms, but not necessarily used exclusively by her – the Slater and Dark series had multiple authors, so therefore so could have Tolhurst series.

    The sad bit being, we will most likely never know who wrote what.

  2. Yes, the fact a single pseudonym may have been used by more than one writer, makes it more difficult to find out about these people. And, increases my determination to do so.

  3. Austlit, the online Australian Literature Database only lists 3 novels written by Geoffrey Tolhurst, THE BIG KICK, BEACH BOY and FLAT 4 KINGS CROSS – all published in 1963. There is a note in THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY of 10 February 1960 stating that Rena Cross had just moved to South Australia from Sydney (http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/51390736). In another issue of the WEEKLY from 24 January 1962 it states that Rena Cross is an Englishwoman who had been traveling around Australia and then intended to spend some time in Cairns (http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/41853208). By 1963 it seems she was back in Sydney (http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/51972679).

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