Category Archives: Autobiography / Memoir

Judy Osborne

Memoirs of an Anzac, cover image
Memoirs of an Anzac, cover image
Against his mother’s wishes, John Charles Barrie joined the Australian army in 1909. Five years later, he was on his way to Egypt as an officer with the Australian Imperial Force. He survived the war to write his memoirs, which were kept by his family for 80 years.

Made public for the first time, this book gives first-hand accounts of Barrie’s wounding at Gallipoli on that fateful first Anzac Day, his recuperation in England, and the friendships he made there. It chronicles his escape from rehab so that he could return to the war in France, and his fighting for days on end, waist-deep in mud in the trenches.

Memoirs of an Anzac tells of the horrors of war, but it is also lightened with the good humour that resulted from thousands of young Australian men being thrown together in dire circumstances.

This is not a history textbook, nor is it a series of diary notes and letters — it is a gut-wrenching, heart-warming true story that will move you. This very personal memoir has been made available by John Barrie’s grand-daughter, Judy Osborne, and Introduced and Annotated by Ross McMullin.

Amanda Webster

webster-tear-cvr Born into privilege and wealth, Amanda Webster is a sixth generation Australian descended from white settlers and the third generation to grow up in Kalgoorlie. When she turned five Amanda started school and became friends with Aboriginal children fromthe nearby Kurrawang Mission. At that time the lives of the Aboriginal people were controlled by the Chief Protector and his local representatives, one of whom was Webster’s very own grandfather.

Forty years later, Webster returns to her hometown. She confronts her racist blunders, her cultural ignorance and her family’s secret past. And so begins her journey of reconcilication and friendship, taking her into a world she hardly knew existed.

A Tear in the Soul is a frank, beautifully written account of Webster’s personal journey towards the relisation that she, like generations of Australians, grew up with a distorted and idealised version of the past.

webster-boy-cvr
Do boys get anorexia? People were often surprised when Amanda Webster told them her son Riche was not just a bit too skinny, but dangerously ill.

Then they would ask, ‘How did he get it?’
That was the question Amanda asked herself. She had trained as a doctor. She knew that every disease has a cause. And if her eleven-year-old son had an eating disorder, surely the cause must be something she and her husband Kevin had done — or failed to do?


webster-amanda

Amanda Webster grew up in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. She graduated from the University of Western Australia as a doctor, but left medicine to raise a family with her husband. Amanda turned to writing after her son’s illness; subsequently her work has appeared in several US literary journals. Amanda lives in Sydney with her husband and two of her three children.

Amanda Webster, photo Karl Schwerdtfeger

World rights: Text Publishing

Susan Swingler

swingler-cvr
The House of Fiction:
Leonard, Susan and Elizabeth Jolley

One daughter, two wives, and the man they all loved…
The House of Fiction is a memoir about a daughter’s quest for her absent father. It sheds a new and surprising light on one of Australia’s most important writers — and the complex fabrications Elizabeth Jolley weaved in her personal life across time.

jolley-leonard-monica

Photo, right:
Leonard Jolley and
Monica Knight
(later Elizabeth Jolley),
late 1930s-early 1940s.


Susan Swingler was born in Birmingham, UK, and lives in rural Gloucestershire. Her jobs have ranged from freelance photographer to gardener, university lecturer to curator and researcher. She and her husband travel widely and have made regular visits to Australia since the late 1970s.

Andrew Riemer

riemer

A scholar, essayist and cultural journalist, Andrew was born in Budapest and arrived in Australia in 1947. In his latest book, Between the Fish and the Mudcake, he reminisces on writers, books, food, music and places.

The first volume of his memoirs, Inside Outside — Life Between Two Worlds, won the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission Prize in 1992. This was followed by The Habsburg Café (1992); America with Subtitles (1995); and Sandstone Gothic (1998).

Andrew’s biography of Robert Hughes, Hughes: End of Modernism, was published by Duffy and Snellgrove in 2001.

He has recently turned to the translation of French literature. His translation of Ce Que Racontait by Catherine Rey was published by Giramondo.

A new non-fiction title, My Family’s History of Smoking, was published by Melbourne University Press in 2008.

Shirley Painter

painter-bean-p
When Shirley Painter’s first book was published, she was 83 years old. She was lucky to get that far: when she was four years old, she was so badly injured she was pronounced dead and taken to the morgue. The man who had beaten her almost to death was her father.

The Bean Patch is the story of how a young girl survived growing up in a volatile household in the 1920s and 1930s; how school, and later university, became her escape route from a family filled with secrets and violence.

It is also the story of how, as a mature woman and a mother herself, she came face to face with what happened to her as a child — how she found the strength to drag her terrible and long-buried memories into the light in order to move on.

Beautifully written, this is a disturbing, compelling and ultimately inspirational story.

Rights sold: Australia/New Zealand (HarperCollins Australia, Sept. 2002)

Mary Moody

moody-sweet-cvrMary’s latest memoir, Sweet Surrender, was released in May 2009. Surrendering… to the process of ageing, to the pull of family, the influence of her parents, her husband and children who have shaped the person she now is.
Rights sold: Australia/New Zealand (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Prior work

Over a decade ago, Mary left her family and her busy Australian life behind for a  six month break away from it all in France, buying a dilapitated house in the small village of Frayssinet-le-Gélat in the Lot region. She turned the experience into a personal memoir titled Au Revoir which was released in 2001 by Pan Macmillan.

Mary and her husband David had lived in a beautiful old house in the Blue Mountains for over twenty years. Returning to Australia, she realised that farming was one thing she had always wanted to do. She and David discovered Yetholme, a beautiful old Federation house set on 28 acres near Orange, some 500 kilometers to the west of Sydney, and saw the potential to set up a French-style farm complete with potager garden and goose and duck breeding. So that took care of Australia.

But there was still France, with memories of wonderful times she’d had and a house waiting to be renovated. And a sister that she had not seen for over thirty  years who has come back into her life as a result of the publication of Au Revoir.

What resulted was the best-selling Last Tango in Toulouse, a moving, tender and at times hilarious account of farming and houses, marriage, lovers, and glorious, glorious food, and then the final part of her memoir, Long Hot Summer, which was released in  2005.

This was followed by a beautifully photo-illustrated book titled Lunch at Madame Murat’s (Pan Macmillan), a celebration of the local restaurant managed by Madame Murat in Frayssinet-le-Gélat.


Mary Moody is a prolific and popular gardening author, memoirist and television presenter.

Reg Mombassa

Chris O’Doherty a.k.a. Reg Mombassa
mombassa-guitar-monster

Artist and creative writer Reg Mombassa (real name Chris O’Doherty): “I have come up with seven descriptors for an artist. They are: beggar, prostitute, liar, thief, addict, nutcase and  minor deity.”

See also Murray Waldren’s page.

Check out the YouTube feature on Reg here: ?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDE-tiI7C2Y&feature=share

Rights sold: Australia/New Zealand (HarperCollins Australia)

Catriona Menzies-Pike: The Long Run

cmp-the-long-run-cvr
No one ever expected Catriona Menzies-Pike to run a marathon. She hated running, and was a hopeless athlete. When she was twenty her parents died suddenly — and for a decade she was stuck. She started running on a whim, and finally her grief started to move too.

Until very recently, it was frowned upon for women to run long distances. Running was deemed unladylike — and probably dangerous. How did women’s running go from being suspect to wildly popular? How does a high school klutz become a marathon runner? This fascinating book combines memoir and cultural history to explore the rich and contradictory topic of women and running.

Anne Gorman: The Country Wife

gorman-wife-cvrIn the tradition of Sara Henderson’s From Strength to Strength, comes a powerful true story of heartbreak and triumph.

When she is five, Anne Gorman’s family disintegrates. After thirteen pregnancies and the death of two children, her devout Catholic mother has a breakdown and Anne and her younger sisters are placed in a convent. Struggling to survive a childhood marred by fear and uncertainty, Anne sees education as her lifeline to freedom. After graduating from university, she’s set to take on the world.

But her plans come unstuck when she falls in love. Marrying a farmer and becoming a mother of five was a life she never imagined. Yet in this alien landscape she finds love and a sense of belonging. When her husband becomes gravely ill, Anne has to find the courage to keep the farm and her family afloat.

Against a backdrop of dramatic historic change, from the shadow of war to the rise of feminism, an uncertain young girl grows into a woman of substance.

Here’s part of a recent review of the book:

The Country Wife, Anne Gorman, tells a great Australian story; by Shaunagh O’Connor
in The Weekly Times, March 04, 2015 12:00AM

OF all the life stories ever written down in homes across Australia, it takes a special one to catch the eye of a publisher. Anne Gorman’s memoir is one of the lucky ones to reach publication and The Country Wife is a story worth sharing.

Gorman, born in 1934, doesn’t tell of fame, fortune or outrageous misfortune but rather a simple life story of the joys and hardships that are part of the human condition and how she navigated them. Born the 11th child of a loving and comfortable family of 13 siblings in Sydney, Gorman’s childhood world fell apart when she went away to a convent boarding school at the age of five after the breakdown of her mother, who had experienced the death of two of those children.

Gorman was rescued from the regimented, loveless institution after her mother’s recovery, but at the same time experienced the death of her beloved father.

Gorman writes honestly and thoughtfully of life during World War II and being evacuated to the Blue Mountains to escape the Japanese invasion of Sydney. She tells of repeated sexual assault at the hands of her teenage brother six years older than her, and of her inability to tell anyone what was happening, of studying social work at university where she graduated as a social worker and then a meeting with a farmer in his 30s, Bruce Gorman, from Yerong Creek, south of Wagga Wagga. The Gorman romance led to marriage, five children, a life on the family property and involvement in all aspects of rural community life.

When her husband is diagnosed with stomach cancer she enters the realm of carer and the roller-coaster of hope offered by second opinions and drugs and the despair of a progressive illness.

After Bruce’s death Gorman decides it is up to her to continue work on the farm while raising her children, all still at school. A worthy tale of city girl turned accomplished country resident.

E N D

Michelle Dicinoski

dicinoski-michelle-2012Michelle has found the love of her life — and now she just wants to get married and live happily ever after.

dicinoski-cover
The only problem is, she’s in love with an American woman, Heather, and neither Australia nor America recognises same-sex marriage. What to do? For Michelle, the answer is clear: go to Canada and get hitched there.

This is the deep, funny, heartwarming and brave story of that trip. Along the way, Michelle reflects on why anyone would want to get married anyway, on the power of acceptance, and on the startling ghost stories in her family.

World Rights: Black Inc, 2013


Michelle Dicinoski writes non-fiction and poetry. Her second book, Ghost Wife: A Memoir of Love and Defiance, was published by Black Inc. in March 2013. Her poetry collection Electricity for Beginners was published in 2011. Her poems and essays have appeared in anthologies, newspapers and journals including the The Best Australian Poems, The Australian, and Meanjin.

Michelle has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Queensland, and received a Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship for 2012-2013. She lives in Melbourne.

 

Robert Dessaix

‘Dessaix is one of perhaps three Australian writers whose
every appearance in print is a not-to-be-missed event’

Sydney Morning Herald

‘Dessaix is some kind of national treasure because he represents with a kind of Helpmann-like elegance and virtuosity
the side of our sensibilities we publicly repress’

— Peter Craven, Australian Book Review

‘Dessaix writes with great elegance, with passion,
compassion and sly wit’
— John Banville

v
One Sunday night in Sydney, Robert Dessaix collapses on a Darlinghurst pavement, and is helped to his hotel by a kind young man wearing a T-shirt that says FUCK YOU. What follows are weeks in hospital, tubes and cannulae puncturing his body, as he recovers from the heart attack threatening daily to kill him. While lying in the hospital bed, Robert chances upon Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Days’.
What, he muses, have his days been for?
What and whom has he loved – and why?
This is vintage Robert Dessaix.
His often surprisingly funny recollections range over topics as eclectic as intimacy, travel, spirituality, enchantment, language and childhood, all woven through with a heightened sense of mortality.


“The pleasure and elegance of all Dessaix’s writing is in the language, the erudition, the delicate, often unexpected and lovely connections, and the intimate, conversational voice. Anyone who listened to him during his decade as presenter of the ABC’s Books and Writing program will immediately ‘hear’ him.
What Days are For is an illuminating companion to A Mother’s Disgrace (1994), which recounted Dessaix’s childhood as a much-loved adopted son, his early studies and travels, but mainly his sense of emptiness until he finds his birth mother and a new identity. He notes: ‘I would like to move hearts, not just minds.’ And he does.”

— Agnes Nieuwenhuizen, in The Australian

After teaching Russian language and literature in the 1970s and ’80s, and presenting the ABC’s Books and Writing program for ten years, he became a full-time writer in 1995. He lives in Hobart.

His autobiography, A Mother’s Disgrace, was published by HarperCollins in 1994.

Robert’s best-selling novel Night Letters was published to great success in Australia, U.K. and the U.S.A. as well as being translated into German, French, Italian, Dutch, Finnish and Portuguese. This was followed by Corfu, released by Scribners in the UK in 2001 and in the Netherlands by Muelenhoff.

Twilight of Love followed, which highlighted Robert’s fascination with Russia and in particular Russian writers. He is a fluent Russian speaker and his doctoral thesis was as study of the author Ivan Turgenev. In Twilight of Love he revisits the Europe he experienced more than twenty years ago and follows the footsteps of Turgenev. Robert weaves together Turgenev’s time in the nineteenth century, his own Soviet experience, and Russia as it is today. Released at the Melbourne Writers’ Week in 2004 by Pan Macmillan, it was also published in the UK by Simon and Schuster and in the US by Shoemaker and Hoard.

dessaix-as-i-was-cvrRobert’s next book (Pan Macmillan 2008) was Arabesques, based on the life and travels of Nobel Prize winning author André Gide. Part travel, part memoir, Arabesques explores Robert’s fascination with Gide’s attempt to find a balance between his homosexual desires and an almost puritanical core.

Robert’s recent collection of non-fiction, As I was Saying, is a swirling conversation with the reader on everything from travel to dogs and cats, from sport and swearing to the pleasures of idleness.

 Rights: various

Catherine Cole

cathy-cole-2013-lores-1Catherine Cole’ new novel is titled The Cyclist, and is being considered by publishers.

Catherine Cole is Professor of Creative Writing, Creative Arts, University of Wollongong. She has published the novels The Grave at Thu Le, Skin Deep and Dry Dock, a memoir about A.D. Hope titled The Poet Who Forgot, and the non-fiction book Private Dicks and Feisty Chicks, an interrogation of crime fiction.

She also edited The Perfume River: Writing from Vietnam and Fashion in Fiction with Karaminas and McNeil. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in national journals and collections including Best Australian Stories.

She has been a member of the Australian Research Council’s ERA committee for Humanities and Creative Arts, has judged some of Australia’s leading literary awards, and has received international writing residencies in Paris and Hanoi.

Rights: various

Dany Chouet with Trish Hobbs: So French

so-french-cvrPérigord-born Dany Chouet brought French cuisine to Australia in the 1970s, starting out at the much-loved restaurant “Upstairs”, before flying solo at “Au Chabrol” and “Cleopatra”.

Now, in her first book, So French, Dany shares the fascinating story of her life in food and hospitality as well as more than 60 recipes. These include signature dishes from her restaurants and timeless provincial favourites such as pissaladière, cassoulet, and apricot soufflé tart. Complemented by stunning images taken at her home in the South-West of France, this is truly a book to treasure.

Dany’s memoir/ cookbook begins its journey around Bordeaux in the fifties with a picture of a childhood in provincial France filled with tradition and the memories of a way of life which has largely disappeared. From Bordeaux she travelled to Paris and then on to Australia. Dany started up the first real French bistro in Sydney in 1970 called “Upstairs”. The more chic “Au Chabrol” followed in Darlinghurst, and then “Glenella” in the Blue Mountains, the first guest house praised for its great food. Then came “Cleopatra”, a guest house hailed not only for its outstanding food but for its beautiful interiors, becoming a pilgrimage site for foodies.

After a highly successful seventeen-year reign at “Cleopatra” Dany  returned to rural France, the gastronomic centre of Europe, to continue her life-long love affair with sensational cooking.

Both a cookbook and a memoir (and a work of art), Dany Chouet’s So French is beautifully published by Murdoch books.

Rights: World: Murdoch Books

Helen Caldicott

caldicott-nuclear-cvrDoctor, anti-nuclear activist, and author of three books on nuclear energy and the environment, Helen Caldicott is the founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Her autobiography A Passionate Life was published by Random House in 1996.

She is writing a new book on the continuing nuclear arms race and the dangers of the anti-ballistic missile system now proposed for the United States. The New Nuclear Danger was published by Simon & Schuster in the United States and Scribe Publications in Australia in 2002.

Her latest work Nuclear Power is Not the Answer was released by Melbourne University Press in 2006.

Martin Sheen says ‘In a world where dark and dangerous forces are threatening our planet, Helen Caldicott shines a powerful light. This much-needed book reveals truths that confirm that we must take positive action now if we are to make a difference.’

Rights: various

John Bryson

John BrysonJohn lectures in law, literary journalism, and fiction, acts on advisory panels to government, NGOs, and universities, and on literary judging panels. At the end of the millennium, a Schools of Journalism panel included him in ‘The 100 Journalists of the Century’. He was awarded the Order of Australia in 2014.

John Bryson achieved international acclaim with Evil Angels, his celebrated book on the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain. It was also released as a major film starring Meryl Streep and Sam Neill. Hodder Headline Australia released a new edition of Evil Angels in 2000.

chamberlain-and-photoWhen John followed the Azaria Chamberlain case through the early eighties, the moment of greatest shock for him came at the conclusion of the trial. Weeks of detailed evidence from the Defence had conclusively demonstrated the profound errors of procedure that the police forensic scientists had committed. However, the jury utterly ignored the facts, and found Lindy Chamberlain guilty of murdering her baby. It was this triumph of prejudice over truth, so nakedly revealed in the jury’s decision, that spurred John on to write the book Evil Angels. It became a turning point in public opinion. Not merely exposing the flaws in the conviction, it above all demonstrated that despite Australians’ belief in their sense of fairness, prejudice can overwhelm us. [Photo: the Chamberlains with a photo of Lindy and her baby.]

John Bryson’s novel, To the Death, Amic, was published by Viking/Penguin in Australia and the UK in 1994.

His Whoring Around was published by Penguin in 1981.

A collection of reportage, Backstage at the Revolution and Twelve Other Reports, was published by Penguin in 1988.

He originated the production and wrote the courtroom scenario for the TV special Secrets of the Jury Room for SBSTV 2004.

Rights: various

Katrina Beikoff

beikoff-katrina‘Do they have spaghetti in Shanghai?’ I asked. ‘Do they have olive oil, cereal or nappies?’

In 2008, award-winning journalist Katrina Beikoff accepted a one-year job on the English language newspaper the Shanghai Daily. Katrina, her partner and their young family dived into a bustling Shanghai without a plan or, frankly, a clue as to what to expect. No Chopsticks Required is Katrina’s account of her startling year in contemporary China and her best efforts to forge a life as a foreigner.

beikoff-chopsticksIn what would prove to be a tumultuous year Katrina witnessed a range of major events: a massive, once-in-a-lifetime snow storm, a devastating earthquake which killed over 80,000 people, the Tibetan uprising, the Beijing Olympics, the melamine-tainted milk scandal, government censorship of the media and the Chinese response to the beginnings of the global financial crisis.

Alongside these international news-making events Katrina describes her attempts to look after her family while overcoming a multitude of quirky and unusual occurrences that made up Shanghai daily life. Katrina’s personal observations of China and its people are as insightful and amusing as they are fascinating.

Katrina Beikoff is a Walkley-award winning journalist, columnist, communications consultant and mother of two. In 2000 she won Australia’s top journalism award for exposing CJ Hunter, America’s world shot-put champion and the husband of disgraced sprint champ Marion Jones, as a drug cheat. She now lives with her family on Queensland’s Gold Coast writing for various publications not owned by the Chinese Communist Party

Genre: memoir

Rights: Australia and New Zealand: Finch Publishing at http://www.finch.com.au/