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.
Christobel Mattingley's first school was the Hopetoun School, Brighton. In 1939 her family moved to Sydney, and she attended school at the Presbyterian Ladies' College, Pymble. She began writing poetry and keeping nature diaries and notes on her surroundings. Her first published work, observations of bird life, was published in the children's pages of Wildlife Magazine.
When her father moved to Tasmania to work she attended The Friends' School (1945-1947). She graduated with BA Hons from the University of Tasmania, and worked for the Department of Immigration, Canberra. In 1951 she gained her formal libarianship qualifications, then became Regional Librarian in the Yallourn-Morwell-Mirboo libraries, Victoria. She married David Mattingley in 1953 and they went to England on a two-year working holiday. On their return she worked at Prince Alfred College (Adelaide), one of the first professional librarians to be appointed to a school in South Australia (SA). She spent time at home bringing up their three children, returning to work in 1966 and establishing a library at St Peter's Girls' School. After further study she was made an Associate of the Library Association of Australia (1971). She worked on the library staff at Wattle Park Teachers' College (1971-1972) and at Murray Park College of Advanced Education (CAE) (1973-1974).
Since then Mattingley has been a full-time writer. She says of her writing that 'the feelings come before the words'; that the feelings come from her own experiences as a child, but the stories come from contemporary situations. She enjoys 'people-watching', and says that she finds stories among people everywhere. She has travelled widely within Australia and overseas. In 1977 she was commissioned by the SA Film Corporation to research and write 14 documentary film scripts. In 1977 she compiled the bibliography Recent translations of European fiction for older children and young adults for the Library Association of Australia.
Mattingley herself has a strong feeling of affinity for the land. She is passionate in her concern for conservation, social justice and aid to developing countries. In 1987 the City of South Perth inaugurated annual Christobel Mattingley Awards for Young Writers. She was made an Honorary Doctor of the University of SA for services to literature and social justice issues, 1995 and a Member of the Order of Australia, 1996. She was the recipient of the third Pheme Tanner Award for services to children's literature, 1999.
Mattingley is represented in the Oral History Collection of the National Library. Ms at Canberra University, Lu Rees Archives. Major holdings of mss, correspondence, papers in the National Library, Canberra. All material relating to Survival in our Own Land at the Mortlock Library, SA.
Another book by Mattingley, 'Big Sister, Little Sister' illustrated by Margaret Power (Ringwood : Puffin, 1999) 014055503X appears not to have been published. Libraries Australia notes: Publisher advice 6/10/99: no longer to be published.
For information about this author's works for children not yet included in AustLit, see Australian Children's Books by Marcie Muir and Kerry White (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1992-2004).
The University of Tasmania presented Dr Christobel Mattingley with an Honorary Doctor of Letters on 14 August 2015.
'Our Mob, God’s Story is an art book with a difference, with more than 115 works in an exciting variety of styles and stories by over 65 established and emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. These artists are well-known and unknown, from communities, towns and cities across Australia, from Tasmania to the Tiwi Islands, from Ceduna to Cairns, from Perth to Wongthaggi, sharing their faith in over one hundred paintings inspired by Bible verses and stories, many well-loved, others not so well known, from Creation to the Crucifixion.
'This publication has been funded by a generous donor and all proceeds will go towards publication of Scripture in mother tongues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups. With a foreword by distinguished Aboriginal artist and educator Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, Our Mob, God’s Story is an important contribution to Australian art. Celebrating the bicentenary of Bible Society in Australia, it is a powerful and beautiful witness to God’s love for the traditional custodians of this ancient continent which we now call Australia, and to the talent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
'This beautiful hard-covered book would be a wonderful addition to any book collection. It comes with a dust jacket and slip case, making it perfect for gift-giving. ' (Publication summary)
'The powerful story of Yvonne Edwards, artist and community leader, who lived on or near the Maralinga lands, and the cost of the fall-out for herself and her family from the nuclear tests in the 1950s.
''Grandfather and Grandmother telling lots of stories. They had to live at Yalata. Their home was bombed. That was their home where the bomb went off. They thought it was mamu tjuta, evil spirits, coming. Everyone was frightened, thinking about people back in the bush. Didn't know what bomb was. Later told it was poison. Parents and grandparents really wanted to go home, used to talk all the time to get their land back.'
'Yvonne Edwards was just six years old when the first bombs of the nuclear tests at Maralinga were detonated in 1956. The tests continued until 1963 and their consequences profoundly affected her family and community.
'This powerful book, by award-winning author Christobel Mattingley, honours Yvonne Edwards' legacy as a highly respected artist and community elder.' (Publication summary)