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David Ireland started out writing poetry and drama but then turned to fiction. His first novel, The Chantic Bird, was published in 1968. In the next decade he published five further novels, three of which won the Miles Franklin Award: The Unknown Industrial Prisoner, The Glass Canoe and A Woman of the Future. Ireland was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1981. In 1985 he received the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal for his novel Archimedes and the Seagull.