Born: Established: 21 Oct 1928 Sydney ; Died: 30 Sep 2008 Erina
Eleanor Spence was born in Sydney and spent her childhood years at Erina on the New South Wales central coast. After finishing secondary school at Gosford High she won a scholarship enabling her to attend Sydney University. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1949. During the 1950s Spence worked as a teacher and children's librarian in Australia and in the United Kingdom. Through this experience she became interested in writing for children and saw her first novel, Patterson's Track, published in 1958.
Spence wrote many books for children, exploring a range of issues, including Australian history, bigotry, religion, alienation and materialism. Her books won a range of awards, including the Book of the Year Award of the Children's Book Council of Australia in 1964 with The Green Laurel and again in 1977 with The October Child.
Spence is widely admired for portraying children outside the mainstream and she has been personally involved in the education of handicapped children. Spence worked at schools for autistic children and, in 1978, travelled overseas in as a Churchill Fellow studying residential facilities for autistic adolescents.
Spence also wrote two books for the children's social history series, 'Early Australians', A Schoolmaster (1969) and A Cedar-Cutter (1971), as well as Ansett Starship Crew Manual (1985). Her autobiography, Another October Child, was published in 1988. In 1998 she received an Emeritus Fellowship from the Australia Council and in 2006 became a Member of the Order of Australia.