Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Australia's Leading Ladies of Literature

June 1st was the birthday of writer and neuroscientist Colleen McCullough, born in Wellington. She studied neurophysiology, and worked in Sydney and London before becoming a research associate at Yale. She spent ten years there but when she discovered that her male colleagues were making twice as much money, she decided that she needed a backup plan.  She began writing in the evenings after work, and her first novel Tim (1974) was a moderate success.  Her second novel was a long romantic novel about a love affair between a beautiful young woman and a Catholic priest, set in the Australian outback.  The Thorn Birds (1977) became an international hit, selling more than 30 million copies. She quit her job and moved back to Norfolk Island, Australia. She wrote more than 20 books and died January 29th this year at the age of 77.

Help us celebrate her legacy by reading some books written by the best and brightest female novelists from Australia.

Geraldine Brooks--(March, People of the Book)--this Pulitzer-Prize winning Australian-American journalist and author won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Life Achievement Award in 2010.  She was born in Sydney.

Isobelle Carmody--(Obernewtyn)--this award-winning fantasy author began working on her Obernewtyn Chronicles when she was just 14-years-old.  She is a Victorian from Wangaratta.

Kate Forsyth--(Bitter Greens)--this re-telling of Rapunzel won the American Library Association's Best Historical Award of 2015.  She is a Sydneysider.

Kerry Greenwood--(Death by Misadventure)--she writes the Phryne Fisher mystery series about an aristocratic P.I. in 1928 Melbourne.  The TV series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries are based on her books.  The author is a Melburnian from Footscray.

Kate Grenville--(The Secret River, Sarah Thornhill)--this multiple award-winning Sydneysider based this novel on her great-great-great-grandfather who was a convict shipped to Australia in 1806.

Hannah Kent--(Burial Rites)--this debut novel is about Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person to be executed in Iceland in 1830.  Kent is a Adelaidean from South Australia.

Margo Lanagan--(The Brides of Rollrock Island)--this short-story and young adult author has won many awards including The World Fantasy Award.  She is a New South Welshman from Waratah.

Fiona McFarlane--(The Night Guest)--this debut novel was shortlisted for Australia's most prestigious literary award and is a deeply personal story about dementia.  She is a Sydneysider from New South Wales.

Kate Morton--(The House at Riverton)--this novel was a bestseller in the U.S. and the U.K. and the author has been published in 38 countries and sold over 3 million books.  This South Australian is from Berri.

Favel Parrett--(When the Night Comes)--she won the Australian Newcomer of the Year in 2012.  She is a Victorian and was a Tasmanian for several years.

M. L. Stedman--(The Light Between Oceans)--this London-based lawyer's first novel is about an Australian lighthouse keeper's family after WWI.  She was born and raised in Western Australia.

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