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John Marsden John Marsden i(A27364 works by)
Born: Established: 1950 Melbourne, Victoria, ;
Gender: Male
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John Marsden was born in Melbourne, the third of four children of Eustace Cullen Hudson and Jeanne Lawler Marsden. He attended Devonport Primary School in Tasmania and Eastwood Primary School and King's School, Parramatta, in New South Wales. Marsden began teaching at All Saints College, Bathurst, New South Wales, in 1978 while studying Arts at the University of New England. He continued to teach at All Saints while completing his Diploma of Teaching from Mitchell College.

In 1982 he became head of English at Geelong Grammar School, Highton, Victoria, and in 1984, rather to his own surprise, he found himself teaching at Timbertop, Geelong Grammar's 'bush' campus. Noticing a complete lack of interest in reading among his Year 9 students he tried writing a short novel that he thought they might enjoy. The novel, So Much to Tell You (1987), was immediately successful, winning the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year: Older Readers in 1998 and other awards. Since publication, it has been translated into numerous languages and has had the largest sales for a book published in Australia for teenagers.

Marsden is regarded as Australia's most popular writer of novels for young adults, attributed to the seven-volume Tomorrow series series. In 1996, Marsden's books took the top six places on the Teenage Fiction best-seller lists for Australia. Also in 1996, he was named 'Australia's most popular author today in any literary field' by the Australian newspaper. In 1997 Australian readers voted three of his books into Australia's 100 most-loved books of all time. Tomorrow, When the War Began has been reprinted thirty times since its 1994 release, translated into multiple languages, and adapted as both a film and a television series.

Marsden has also created picture book texts (most notably The Rabbits (1999), a CBCA Picture Book of the Year), poetry, and nonfiction. In 2015, The Rabbits was adapted as an opera by Kate Miller-Heidke and Lally Katz: The Rabbits opera was shortlisted for an International Opera Award, and won an AWGIE Award and three Helpmann Awards in Australia.

Marsden is a contemplative writer and popular speaker. His works invariably feature serious themes such as sexuality, violence in society, survival at school and in a harsh world, and conflict with adult authority figures. His teaching background has added authenticity to his style, characterisation and themes.

Marsden is interested in sharing his understanding of the creative writing process itself. His Everything I Know About Writing (1993), Marsden on Marsden : The Stories behind John Marsden's Bestselling Books (2000) and a study of his own creative process for So Much to Tell You assist in an understanding of the writing process. While many of his fictional works are controversial in terms of their content, his nonfiction work, Secret Men's Business, is aimed at assisting young men in understanding their sexuality. Marsden has sold a million and a half books world-wide, and has won awards in Europe, America, and Australia.

Despite his success as a writer, Marsden remains committed to the education process. He spends much of his time running writing camps at his property, the Tye Estate in Kerrie, Victoria. In 2006, he began operating a school, Candlebark, on the property. The school caters for children at primary and secondary level. In 2016, he opened an arts-focused secondary school, Alice Miller School, also in the Macedon Ranges. He is also patron of youth-media organisation Express Media, which has offered the John Marsden Prize for Young Australian Writers annually since 2005.


Most Referenced Works


  • AustLit does not provide all details of Marsden's foreign editions. More information about his books, particularly foreign editions, may be obtained from Kerry White Australian Children's Books: A Bibliography, Vol Two 1973-1988 and Australian Children's Books: A Bibliography, Vol Three 1989-2000.
  • Voted number 7 in the Booktopia Top 50 Favourite Australian Authors for 2018

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon South of Darkness Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2014 7949044 2014 single work novel historical fiction young adult

'My name, then, is Barnaby Fletch. To the best of my knowledge I have no middle name and cannot say of whom I am the son, or of whom my father's father's father was the son. Alas, my origins are shrouded in mystery.

'Thirteen-year-old Barnaby Fletch is a bag-and-bones orphan in London in the late 1700s.

'Barnaby lives on his wits and ill-gotten gains, on streets seething with the press of the throng and shadowed by sinister figures. Life is a precarious business.

'When he hears of a paradise on the other side of the world - a place called Botany Bay - he decides to commit a crime and get himself transported to a new life, a better life.

'To succeed, he must survive the trials of Newgate Prison, the stinking hull of a prison ship and the unknown terrors of a journey across the world.

'And Botany Bay is far from the paradise Barnaby has imagined. When his past and present suddenly collide, he is soon fleeing for his life - once again.

'A riveting story of courage, hope and extraordinary adventure.' (Publication summary)

2014 winner The Fellowship of Australian Writers Victoria Inc. National Literary Awards FAW Christina Stead Award
y separately published work icon The Year My Life Broke Sydney : Pan Macmillan Australia , 2013 6691480 2013 single work children's fiction children's

'You move into the most boring street in the most boring town in Australia. Tarrawagga is a hole. Its only ambition is to be a crater, and it has every chance of getting there. The last thing you expect is to have action all around you, dangerous strangers in the backyard, and bullets flying past your ears. At your new school, everyone thinks you're the biggest loser in Grade 6. Little do they know. When they realise the truth, teachers and students alike are in for the shock of their lives. '(Publisher's blurb)

2014 CBCA Book of the Year Awards Notable Book Younger Readers
y separately published work icon Lost and Found New York (City) : Arthur A. Levine Books , 2011 Z1764283 2011 selected work picture book These three short stories focus on loss and despair to explore how we lose and find what matters most to us: a girl finds a bright spot in a dark world, a boy leads a strange, lost being home, and a group of peaceful creatures loses its home to cruel invaders.
2012 listed USBBY Outstanding International Books List
Last amended 17 Sep 2019 09:32:36
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