Glenda Adams was born and educated in Sydney. She studied Indonesian and other languages at the University of Sydney and spent some time in Indonesia on a small scholarship before returning to Sydney to teach. In 1964 she moved to New York to study journalism at Columbia University. After a failed marriage she taught fiction-writing workshops at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University before deciding to return to Australia. She returned to Sydney in 1990 and continued her teaching career at the University of Technology, Sydney.
Adams had published a number of short stories in the Bulletin, the Village Voice, Harper's and the Transatlantic Review before her first collection Lies and Stories was published in 1976. She published her first novel Games of the Strong in 1982 and won the Miles Franklin Award and the NSW State Premier's Award in 1987 for Dancing on Coral. Adams' stories often explore family and school life in Australia and her longer works are seen to respond to other writers such as Christina Stead or literary forms such as the traditional male bildungsroman. In 1998 Adams' first play Monkey Trap, a well-received exploration of storytelling, was performed in Sydney.
'‘She’s going now,’ said Henry Watter if he said anything at all. Or, ‘It’s a tricky place, the world. You’ve got to be sharp to manage it.’‘Leave her be. She’ll be back,’ said Mrs Watter. ‘This is her home. She knows that.’
Lark Watter had always planned to run away from her stifling suburban life in 1960s Sydney. At university she encounters an American, Tom, and with him the promise of escape. Following Tom to the other side of the world by freighter is a journey to freedom—but the adventure Lark has embarked on isn’t quite what she had anticipated. Not on the way there, and certainly not in New York…
A picaresque journey across the high seas and through the extremes of the ’60s, Dancing on Coral was Glenda Adams’ second novel and established her international reputation. (Publisher's blurb)
'Totally convincing and enjoyable ...[Adams] can sketch characters in a dialogue or two, extract entertainment from ordinary situations, and she captures the mood of suburban Australia.' Sunday Times 'It took William Badger some time to understand that he was going to be left behind, deliberately abandoned, what seemed like a thousand miles from home. His mother had simply asked if he would like a nice seaside holiday, and he had said yes.' When William Badger is ten years old his mother Rose takes him to a boarding house in Manly - Seven Miles from Sydney, and a Thousand Miles from Care. Left there, abandoned by the glorious Rose, who once danced and twirled on her little pointy shoes, William sits in the hedge and waits for her return. But the Rose he longs for never returns; the mother who comes back is much too angry to twirl. The only clue William has to this bewildering change is the name on a document he sees in the dining room sideboard: Longleg, the perfect name for an imaginary friend, or an alter ego...In this imaginative tour de force, Miles Franklin award winner Glenda Adams explores with tenderness and grace the life of a man who seems destined to find his mother in all other women. Winner of the National Book Council Banjo Award. Winner of The Age Fiction Book of the Year Award.' (Publication summary)