Erle Cox was born in Emerald Hill (South Melbourne, Vic.), on 15 August 1873.
He worked in the wine-growing industry in Rutherglen (Vic.), then moved to Tasmania and became a Launceston-based travelling tobacco sales representative. He married Mary Ellen Kilborn on 24 December 1901. The couple went on to have three children: Harold, Molly and Kathleen.
Cox moved back to Melbourne, and he began to submit his writings to periodicals, and was published in The Lone Hand and The Bulletin; however, it was his writings for The Argus that landed him a job in the newspaper game.
He wrote for The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) from 1918 to 1946 (permanently from 1921), often using the pseudonym of “Chiel”; then he worked for The Age (Melbourne) from 1946 to August 1950, when he retired due to reasons of poor health. He was particularly well-known for his film reviews.
Cox wrote three novels, the most popular of which was Out of the Silence.
The manuscript of Out of the Silence had been submitted to several publishers, but was rejected. However, it was then serialised in The Argus in 1919, and was so popular that there was a clear market for it to be produced as a book. The novel was finally published in 1925 and was warmly received by reviewers; it was published in several editions and in several English-speaking countries (Australia, England, and the USA). Later on, it was also translated into French and Russian.
In 1938, his second novel, Fool’s Harvest, was also serialised in The Argus. It was published as a book the following year. Being a fictional account of an invasion of Australia, the story added to the debate over national defence preparedness.
Cox also wrote several short stories, which appeared in various newspapers; and, in 1947, his third novel, The Missing Angel, was published.
Following a lengthy time of illness, Erle Cox died in Melbourne, on 20 November 1950. His wife, Mary Ellen Cox (nee Kilborn), died a few years later in Elsternwick (Vic.), on 19 January 1954.
Books by Erle Cox:
[Books arranged by year of publication.]
1925: Out of the Silence, Melbourne: Edward A. Vidler [first published in 1925; a prologue was added in the 1947 edition]
1939: Fool’s Harvest, Melbourne: Robertson and Mullen
1947: The Missing Angel, Melbourne: Robertson and Mullens
Sally O’Neill, “Cox, Erle (1873–1950)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University
“Out of the Silence: By Erle Cox: Chapter I ”, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 19 April 1919, p. 6 [first installment of “Out of the Silence” as a serial]
“Out of the Silence”, The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld.), 16 July 1932, p. 6
“Out of the Silence”, The Shepparton Advertiser (Shepparton, Vic.), 17 February 1934, p. 3
“Erle Cox dead”, The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld.), 21 November 1950, p. 3
“Mrs. Erle Cox”, The Corowa Free Press (Corowa, NSW), 22 January 1954, p. 3
“Erle Cox”, Wikipedia