AustLit logo
Libby Hathorn Libby Hathorn i(A18602 works by) (a.k.a. Elizabeth Helen Hathorn)
Born: Established: 1943 Newcastle, Newcastle - Hunter Valley area, New South Wales, ;
Gender: Female
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


Libby Hathorn writes poetry, picture books, libretti, scripts, educational resources and young adult novels. She has lived in Sydney since she was two years old. She studied at Sydney Girls High School, Sydney University and Sydney Technical College, before completing her training at Balmain Teachers College.

She worked as a primary school librarian in the inner city for ten years, during which time she began her writing for children with 'ideas' kits for teachers, and the picture book texts for Stephen's Tree (1979; illustrated by Sandra Laroche) and Lachlan's Walk (1980, illustrated by Sandra Laroche). In 1981 she moved to adult education, working as a scriptwriter, producer and director for educational films and television. She continued to write for children, with growing critical success. The Tram to Bondi Beach (1981, illustrated by Julie Vivas) was Highly Commended in the 1982 Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year Awards. Her later books have continued that success. Among her many awards are the Asher Literary Award, multiple Biennial Book Awards, and an AWGIE Award for her adaptation of her own Grandma's Shoes.

In 1987, Hathorn received a grant from the Australia Council, enabling her to work full-time on the first of her young adult novels, Thunderwith (1989). This novel was also a CBCA Honour Book, was translated into several languages, and later made into a telemovie (renamed The Echo of Thunder).

Poetry is Hathorn's first love, and she sees similar qualities in poetry writing and writing for children, such as succinctness, controlled language, strong imagery, surprise, and the ability to move the reader.

Contemporary settings and universal themes are elements Hathorn uses in her writing; perhaps most strongly demonstrated with her picture book for older readers, Way Home (1994, illustrated by Gregory Rogers, the first Australian to be awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal for his artwork). This tale of a street kid created controversy when it was first published, with some claiming it was hardboiled, and others that it romanticised the plight of the homeless. Many of Hathorn's books have been translated and been published internationally, as well as adapted for the stage.

Hathorn has lectured part-time in Creative Writing at the University of Sydney. She is the director of Hathorn Enterprises.

Most Referenced Works

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon No! Never! Sydney : Lothian , 2020 18579923 2020 single work picture book children's

'There was a child,

'The sweetest ever,

'Until she learned these words:


'Georgie is a sweet little girl who always makes her parents happy... until she discovers one powerful phrase: No! Never!

'It suddenly becomes her answer to every request, from tidying up her toys to going to bed. Her parents are at their wits end, but what happens when they decide to try saying No! Never! themselves?'

'A lovely, lively look at the Terrible Twos (or Threes, or Fours, or Fives...) from mother-daughter team Libby Hathorn and Lisa Hathorn-Jarman, with debut illustrator Mel Pearce. Perfect for any parent dealing with tantrums, defiant behaviour or communication issues.' (Publication summary)

2021 shortlisted Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards Three to 5 Years
2021 shortlisted CBCA Book of the Year Awards CBCA Award for New Illustrator
2021 winner CBCA Book of the Year Awards Book of the Year: Early Childhood
2021 CBCA Book of the Year Awards Notable Book Early Childhood
y separately published work icon Miss Franklin : How Miles Franklin's Brilliant Career Began Melbourne : Lothian , 2019 16084101 2019 single work picture book children's

'This is a story about iconic Australian writer Stella Miles Franklin, namesake of two major literary prizes, during her brief but formative time as a governess in rural New South Wales. Teenager Stella Miles Franklin has to work to help support her family. Stella is unhappy in her job and longs for the freedom and excitement of city life. While working, she meets a young orphan girl, Imp, who is almost as feisty as Stella herself, and who spurs the older girl to follow her dreams.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2021 longlisted Book Links Award for Historical Fiction
y separately published work icon Butterfly, We're Expecting You! Sydney : Lothian , 2017 10185975 2017 single work picture book children's

'Two small children discover the beauty and wonder of nature in their very own backyard in this beautifully illustrated story from award-winning author Libby Hathorn.

'Come explore your backyard. Who knows what you'll find? A butterfly, a frog, a bird ... maybe even a dinosaur!

'A sweet and gentle story that feels as warm as a garden bathed in sunlight, from award-winning author Libby Hathorn and acclaimed illustrator Lisa Stewart.' (Publication summary)

2018 highly commended SWW Book Awards Children

Hilarie Lindsay Children's Book Award

Last amended 17 Nov 2020 10:08:11
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: