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Cate Kennedy Cate Kennedy i(A17128 works by)
Born: Established: 1963 Louth, Lincolnshire,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
Gender: Female
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Cate Kennedy had a peripatetic childhood, living with her parents in several Australian states and the United Kingdom. She studied at the then Canberra College of Advanced Education (later the University of Canberra) and the Australian National University, gaining a BA and a B.Litt. She has worked as a freelance later, been engaged as a writer-in residence at various Melbourne schools and taught creative writing to senior students and scriptwriting to University of Ballarat students. For several years, Kennedy was also a community arts worker in Daylesford in country Victoria and has been involved in the organisation of various street festivals in Victoria.

In the 1990s, Kennedy spent two years in Central Mexico, working in a cooperative as a volunteer with Australian Volunteers International, teaching literacy to peasant communities. During this time she wrote mainly non-fiction.

Primarily a short story writer, Kennedy has won numerous awards for her work, which has been published in major Australian newspapers. It was her observations while working for the Australian Customs Service that inspired Kennedy to write her prize-winning short story Habit about a dying woman's attempt to smuggle cocaine into the country. Her writing of poetry resulted in her collection Signs of Other Fires (2001) which draws on her experiences in Mexico and on her observations of daily life. The following year she won the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize, thus enabling her to travel to Ireland to study and teach.

Her sole novel (as of 2019), The World Beneath (2009), won the People's Choice Award at the NSW Premier's Literary Awards in 2010, and in the same year was shortlisted for the Barbara Jefferis Award, the Christina Stead Award (NSW Premier's Literary Awards), the ALS Gold Medal, the Australian Book Industry Award's Literary Fiction Book of the Year, and the Age's Fiction Prize.

Kennedy is, however, better known for her short work. In addition to Signs of Other Fires, she has published three additional volumes of poetry (as at 2017): Joyflight (2004), Crucible and Other Poems (2006), and The Taste of River Water (2011). The latter won the C.J. Dennis Prize (Victorian Premier's Literary Awards) in 2011, and was shortlisted for both the Western Australian Premier's Book Award (for poetry) and the Colin Roderick Award.

Kennedy has also written collections of short stories, including Dark Roots (2006) and Like a House on Fire (2012). Dark Roots was shortlisted for the Steel Rudd Award (Queensland Premier's Literary Awards) and highly commended by the ALS Gold Medal, and Like a House on Fire won the Steele Rudd Award and was shortlisted for both the Kibble Award and the Stella Prize.

Kennedy has lived on a farm on the Broken River in northeast Victoria.

Most Referenced Works


  • Cate Kennedy is a Stella Prize Schools Program speaker.

Personal Awards

2022 winner The Furphy Literary Award for 'Art and Life'.
2020 highly commended The Furphy Literary Award for Ando Gets Plastered
2019 recipient The Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund

Awards for Works

Doisneau's Kiss 2014 single work short story
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , September no. 364 2014; (p. 55-54)
2014 shortlisted ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize
y separately published work icon Like a House on Fire Brunswick : Scribe , 2012 Z1891466 2012 selected work short story 'From prize-winning short-story writer Cate Kennedy comes a new collection to rival her highly acclaimed Dark Roots. In Like a House on Fire, Kennedy once again takes ordinary lives and dissects their ironies, injustices and pleasures with her humane eye and wry sense of humour. In 'Laminex and Mirrors', a young woman working as a cleaner in a hospital helps an elderly patient defy doctor's orders. In 'Cross-Country', a jilted lover manages to misinterpret her ex's new life. And in 'Ashes', a son accompanies his mother on a journey to scatter his father's remains, while lifelong resentments simmer in the background.

'Cate Kennedy's poignant short stories find the beauty and tragedy in illness and mortality, life and love.' (From the publisher's website.)
2013 winner Queensland Literary Awards University of Southern Queensland Australian Short Story Collection – Steele Rudd Award
2013 shortlisted Kibble Literary Awards Nita Kibble Literary Award
2013 longlisted ASAL Awards ALS Gold Medal
2013 shortlisted The Stella Prize
Seventy-Two Derwents 2011 single work short story fantasy
— Appears in: The Wicked Wood 2011; (p. 9-48) Like a House on Fire 2012; (p. 239-277)
2011 shortlisted Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Australian Speculative Fiction Young Adult Division Best Short Story
Last amended 27 Jul 2020 10:25:20
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