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Helen Garner Helen Garner i(A10495 works by)
Born: Established: 1942 Geelong, Geelong City - Geelong East area, Geelong area, Geelong - Terang - Lake Bolac area, Victoria, ;
Gender: Female
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Helen Garner was born in Geelong, Victoria in 1942, and grew up there with five younger siblings. She studied Arts at the University of Melbourne, graduating with Honours in English and French in 1965. She worked as a secondary school teacher until 1972, when she was dismissed, amid controversy, by the Victorian Education Department for answering her students' questions about sex. Obliged by this sudden reversal to write for a living, she has continued ever since to work as a freelance feature writer (and occasional reviewer of film and theatre) for various major Australian newspapers and magazines.

Garner's first novel, Monkey Grip (1977), won the National Book Council Award - the first of several awards for her work - and was later adapted for cinema (1982). Her subsequent books include novels (The Children's Bach, 1980; Cosmo Cosmolino,1992), novellas (Honour & Other people's Children, 1980), short stories (Postcards from Surfers, 1985; My Hard Heart: Selected Short Fiction, 1998) and screenplays (The Last Days of Chez Nous and Two Friends 1992). All her fiction is contemporary in setting and in its accounts of the struggle to find decency, love and spiritual meaning in modern urban existence.

In the 1990s Garner investigated a sexual harassment case at Ormond College at Melbourne University. Her book about the case, The First Stone (1995), was a highly controversial and much-discussed best-seller, provoking a spate of conflicting public responses. Her subsequent publication, True Stories (1996), collects her essays and journalism written over 25 years, including the Walkley Award-winning piece Killing Daniel.

In 2001 she published a second non-fiction collection, The Feel of Steel, in which journalistic essays are arranged to constitute personal memoir. For more information and criticism see particularly Kerryn Goldsworthy's book Helen Garner (OUP 1996).

(Biography reviewed and amended slightly by the Author (08/10/2001)).


Most Referenced Works


  • Voted number 27 in the Booktopia Top 50 Favourite Australian Authors for 2018

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon How to End a Story : Diaries 1995–1998 Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2021 22129274 2021 single work diary

'The third instalment of diaries from the inimitable Helen Garner covers four eventful years in the life of one of Australia's most treasured writers.

'Helen Garner's third volume of diaries is an account of a woman fighting to hold on to a marriage that is disintegrating around her.

'Living with a great writer who is consumed by his work, and trying to find a place for her own spirit to thrive, she rails against the confines while desperate to find the truth in their relationship-and the truth of her own self.

'This is a harrowing story, a portrait of the messy, painful, dark side of love lost, of betrayal and sadness and the sheer force of a woman's anger. But it is also a story of resilience and strength, strewn with sharp insight, moments of joy and hope, the immutable ties of motherhood and the regenerative power of a room of one's own.' (Publication summary)

2022 longlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Biography of the Year
y separately published work icon One Day I'll Remember This : Diaries 1987-1995 Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2020 19599730 2020 single work diary

'Helen Garner’s second volume of diaries charts a tumultuous stage in her life. Beginning in 1987, as she embarks on an affair that she knows will be all-consuming, and ending in 1995 with the publication of The First Stone and the bombshell that followed it, Garner reveals the inner life of a woman in love and a great writer at work.

'With devastating honesty, she grapples with what it means for her sense of self to be so entwined with another—how to survive as an artist in a partnership that is both thrilling and uncompromising. And through it all we see the elevating, and grounding, power of work.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2022 shortlisted National Biography Award
2021 longlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian General Non-Fiction Book of the Year
y separately published work icon Yellow Notebook : Diaries Volume I, 1978-1986 Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2019 17065992 2019 single work diary

'HELEN Garner has kept a diary for almost all her life. But until now, those exercise books filled with her thoughts, observations, frustrations and joys have been locked away, out of bounds, in a laundry cupboard.

'Finally, Garner has opened her diaries and invited readers into the world behind her novels and works of non-fiction. Recorded with frankness, humour and steel-sharp wit, these accounts of everyday life provide an intimate insight into the work of one of Australia’s greatest living writers.

'Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume 1, in this elegant hardback edition, spans about a decade beginning in the late 1970s just after the publication of her first novel, Monkey Grip. It will delight Garner fans and those new to her work alike.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2020 longlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian General Non-Fiction Book of the Year
2020 longlisted Indie Awards Nonfiction
Last amended 5 Dec 2019 09:43:30
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