Edel Wignell 1936–2023
An author’s legacy is ideas, interpretations and books, in varied formats.
Edel Wignell left a literary legacy others will continue to read. Her history- themed books will not date. Raised in a Fundamentalist family, the second eldest of six girls, on a farm, Edel had strong views and a work ethic which later sustained her through the rejections of the freelancer workstyle.
A highly skilled and persistent researcher, Edel’s best work included historical tales or scripts which explored myths and legends as well as the natural world. ‘Escape by Deluge’ was the historical YA novel of which she was most proud, and also of being mentored by Patricia Wrightson on this project set during the 1970’s flooding of Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. In (2019), Edel Wignell was awarded the ASA Medal. The mentorship for children’s writers/illustrators that she bequeathed to the ASA will continue to help other creators.
By Hazel Edwards OAM (edited)
Margaret Hamilton (AM) 1941–2022
On November 24, 2022 we lost one the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s foundation stones—Margaret Hamilton AM. Margaret has been our guiding light, our fiercest advocate, our cheer leader, and our intellectual powerhouse. Both the Book of the Year Awards and the CBCA Awards Foundation have grown in stature because of her dedication and unwavering service. The Australian publishing community, and specifically our children’s literature creatives, have been nurtured, mentored and inspired by her razor-sharp mind and focus on producing quality stories for our young Australians. Her legacy is enormous and the CBCA is mindful and dedicated to our responsibility in ensuring its care. Margaret will be missed by us all.
By Wendy Rapee
Rev Dr John Cohen (OA) 1913–2022
Rev Dr John Cohen (OAM) was editor of Reading Time from 1987 until 2014. He increased the physical size of the Journal and added colour to its production. He travelled widely and always made contact with children's authors and illustrators all over Australia and internationally to interview them for Reading Time. He was a financial member of both NSW and ACT Branches for many years as a way of supporting the smaller ACT Branch. He was passionate about Australian children's books and had an enormous personal collection. His contribution to CBCA was very significant. He received his OAM in 2016 for service to children's literature. His work over the years had a positive and far-reaching influence on the development of Australian children’s books and publishing and he gave encouragement, advice and even practical assistance to countless authors and illustrators of children’s books.
He lived in Wagga Wagga and served in a ministry capacity at both St. Paul’s Turvey Park and St. Alban’s Kooringal over many decades. He continued to serve in the pastoral and sacramental ministry at St Alban’s.
Educational history - reflecting his interest in Children's Literature:
- PhD (Ohio State University)Education (Language Arts & Childrens Literature) 1951–55
- Master of Education (Saskatchewan)
- Master of Theological Studies (Melbourne College of Divinity)
- Master of Letters (Distinction) (University of New England)
- Master of Religious Education (Catholic University of Australia)
- Master of History (University of New England)
- Master of Arts (University of South Australia)
- Grad Dip Library & Info Science (Riverina- Murray Institute of HE)
By Julie Long
Rosemary Thomas 1950–2022
After graduating from Teacher’s College in the 1970’s she has been a member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, both in Victoria and the ACT. She was passionate about the importance of reading to children and is a positive and visible role model who reads voraciously. She was diligent and reliable and participated in all aspects of the ACT Branch including being a long-serving member of the Branch Committee, organising the annual Christmas Book Appeal and judges workshops. In 2015 Rosemary was the ACT Branch recipient of the Laurie Copping Award for her significant and sustained contribution to the ACT in the field of children’s literature. Nationally, Rosemary was a director of the National board from 2018-2020 and has been a Fiction Judge, an Awards Co-ordinator and was an energetic member of the 2014 National Conference Committee. Rosemary promoted the CBCA wherever she could and has been responsible for attracting new members to the ACT Branch.
By Justine Power
Arone Raymond Meeks 1957–2021
As a Kuku Midigi man, Arone Meeks grew up in Far North Queensland. He was a founding member of the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative. His knowledge of the bush and its spirits was passed on to him by his grandfather. He received the Crichton Award for New Illustrator in 1988 forThe Pheasant and the Kingfisher and Enora and the Black Crane (Scholastic) was a CBCA Shortlisted picture book in 1992. Since then he played a pivotal role in the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. He died on 5 May and is remembered as one of Australia’s most important and prolific Indigenous artists.
By Margaret Hamilton AM
Barbara Ker Wilson 1929 – 2020
Barbara Ker Wilson was born in Sunderland, England on 24 September 1929. She came to Australia in 1964 with her husband, Peter Tahourdin, and two young daughters, Julia and Sarah. She was well-respected in the literary world as an accomplished writer, editor and publisher. In 2004 Barbara was awarded an Order of Australia – Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to literature as an editor and author, and as a mentor to emerging writers.
She is survived by her daughters Julia and Sarah, and her grandchildren Max and Imogen.
Goldie (nee Lapidus) Alexander 1936 – 2020
Goldie Alexander was born in Melbourne to Polish migrants. Her first four books were 'Dolly Fiction' YA novels published under the pseudonym Gerri Lapin. She went on to write over 90 books and short stories, many winning literary awards. While writing she also taught creative writing and ran workshops in universities, TAFE colleges, clubs and schools. She also mentored emerging writers. Goldie passed away peacefully in Melbourne after a long illness. She is the loved sister of Helen and Rita and aunt of Jules and Caleb.
Judith Clarke 1943 – 2020
Born and raised in Sydney, Judith Clarke graduated from the University of New South Wales and Australian National University. She worked as a teacher, librarian and lecturer and wrote 20 books for children and young adults during her writing career. Clarke was known for her hilarious Al Capsella series and her original and intelligent books for young adults which handled serious issues with skill and sensitivity. Her novel Wolf on the Fold won the 2001 CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers and Night Train (1999) and The Winds of Heaven (2010) were both named CBCA Honour books. Several of Clarke's books appeared on the CBCA Notables and Shortlists over the years including Friend of My Heart (1995) and One Whole and Perfect Day (2007). The latter was also named an honour book in the American Library Association's Michael L. Printz Awards for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.
Erica Wagner, Clarke's long-time publisher at Allen & Unwin wrote: "Judy was born to write, and her stories have such depth and grace to them, her writing deceptively simple but full of meaning. She could conjure every human emotion with such tenderness."
Clarke is survived by her son Yask and his father.
Dr Alison Gregg 1939 – 2020
The WA Branch notes with sadness, the passing of Life Member Dr Alison Gregg on 1 April 2020.
In December 2008 Dr Alison Gregg was elected a Life Member of the CBCA WA Branch after many years of dedicated and professional service including as WA Branch President in 1985 and as a judge for the Book of the Year awards in 1996-1997.
At the presentation Alison commented “my long association with CBCA WA has been a joy. I’ve met so many wonderful people, read so many books that I might have missed without that impetus, and felt so gratified that I could contribute in some small way to the continuing goal of bringing books and young people together – getting the right book at the right time to the right reader. It’s been my mission in life since I first discovered that joy for myself. This award means more to me than almost any other honour. Thank you all so much and long may CBCA WA continue to enthuse and open new worlds of imagination for young readers – just as it did for me in those early Book Week exhibitions at Perth Town Hall. Long may it prosper!”
By Jan Nicholls (CBCA WA Branch President)
Steph Bowe 1994 – 2020
Australian YA author Steph Bowe has died at age 25 due to complications from an aggressive form of leukemia. Bowe published her debut novel Girl Saves Boy in 2010 at age 16. She wrote a further two novels All This Could End and Night Swimming which were longlisted for the 2014 Gold Inky Award and CBCA Older Reader Book of the Year 2018 respectively. She was a May Gibbs Children's Literature Trust fellow in 2016 and a Schools Ambassador for the Stella Prize. Her editor Penny Hueston at Text Publishing wrote:
‘Everyone at Text Publishing is completely devastated by the death of the extraordinary YA writer Steph Bowe. We will miss her compassionate, wise, generous spirit and her wit, humour and intelligence. She wasn’t just a brilliant writer, whose first novel Girl Saves Boy was published when she was just 16, and who wrote two more wonderfully original books: All this Could End and Night Swimming. She was also a truly good person, and was always a joy to work with. She loved doing school and library sessions and her books touched the lives of countless readers of all ages. Our hearts go out to her family and friends and to all the YA community who knew and loved this very special young woman.
‘Donations can be directed to the Leukaemia Foundation, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital or Gold Coast University Hospital all of which have been integral in supporting the Bowe family.’
The Sydney Morning Herald has published an obituary.
Christobel Mattingley 1931 – 2019
Known for her compassion and commitment to social justice, Christobel Mattingley wrote over thirty books for children during her career, many of which were award-winning titles. In 1990 she received the Advance Australia Award for Service to Literature and in 1996 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to literature and for community service through her commitment to social and cultural issues. Her book 'Rummage' (illustrated by Patricia Mullins) won CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers in 1982 and her young adult book 'No Gun for Asmir' received a High Commendation in the 1994 Australian Human Rights Awards.
'On Monday, June 3 news filtered through that Christobel Mattingley had passed away in Adelaide, aged 87. The news hit me in the chest as I realised one of Australia’s foremost writers would not be writing anymore. I looked forward to reading and reviewing her books. Her clarity of style and sense of purpose as a writer always shone through. Although she did win many awards for her writing and her services to the writing industry, I don’t think her work got the attention it truly deserved. Christobel’s writing was ground-breaking in so many ways. Her Asmir series heralded a new genre for young adult readers, and helped us all understand the plight of refugees. Her deep love of, and commitment to, Indigenous storying led her to edit Survival in our Own Land, and later write the Maralinga story from the perspective of the Yalata and Oak Valley peoples. She was humble, and gracious and generous. I selfishly mourn her passing, not just because I won’t hear her lovely voice or be greeted by her sparkling eyes again, but because she still had so many stories to tell. On her website, FAQ page in answer to the question 'How long does it take to write a book?', Christobel wrote, “It’s taken me all my life.” Rest in peace Christobel and thank you for a life well lived and for your stories well told.' By Sarah Mayor Cox.
Link to media release by Allen & Unwin.
Margaret Power 1953 – 2019
Melbourne illustrator Margaret Power passed away on the 20th May. Her first commission was to illustrate Creatures in the Beard, written by Margaret Wild, which was shortlisted for the 1987 CBCA Picture Book of the Year, and the following year The Long Red Scarf, with text by Nette Hilton, was also an Honour Book in the same category. Books Illustrated have captured her essence with these words: ‘Margaret was a wonderful draftsperson who worked with a gentle realism, depicting the humanness of people and the animalness of creatures with amazing accuracy and sensitivity - particularly horses and cats which she knew well and loved passionately.’ She illustrated many books for well-known authors such as Christobel Mattingley, Jean Chapman, Edel Wignell, Jackie French and Robin Klein. For many years, a framed original of her endpaper from Just Dragon by Liliana Stafford hung in my hallway until it was time to return it to a new home with Liliana. Margaret and her work will continue to be remembered with warmth and affection. By Jenni Woodroffe from the IBBY newsletter.
Albert Ullin 1930 – 2018
Albert Ullin OAM was a passionate advocate for children’s literature, supporter of Australian illustrators, and founder of Australia’s first specialist children’s bookshop, The Little Bookroom. He received the Dromkeen Medal in 1986 and the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to children’s literature in Australia and beyond in 1997.
Born in Frankfurt, Germany on 29 April 1930, Ullin travelled with his family to Australia, via Italy, arriving in Melbourne in 1939. His life-long love of children’s literature stemmed from a childhood filled with books and a mother with a particular interest in art and fairy tales. Years later, after studying literature and working in all aspects of the book trade in Australia and internationally, Ullin achieved his ambition to open the country’s first specialist retail children’s bookstore. The Little Bookroom opened in October 1960 and was named after a collection of stories and verse by Eleanor Farjeon.
Ullin was an ardent supporter of the Children’s Book Council of Australia and held various positions (including Branch President) within the CBCA Victoria Branch between 1979 and 1988. He also served as judge on both the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and the CBCA Crichton Award for New Illustrators. Albert Ullin will be remembered as a kind and generous soul, appreciator of beautiful illustration and extraordinary pioneer in children’s literature.
Judith Bensemann 1947 – 2018
Judy served on the National Branch of the CBCA from 1993-1994 when it was time for Victoria to hold office. She was the Awards Coordinator for the Book of the Year Awards for those years and was instrumental in creating many of the procedures now in place. Judy was one of the world's kindest people and was always there to lend a hand in any situation. She will be sadly missed.
By Pamela Horsey
Myrtle Spiers 1926 – 2018
Liz Lofthouse 1969 – 2018
Noela Young 1930 – 2018
Noela Young was born in Sydney. After attending Sydney High School she won a scholarship to the National Art School, then East Sydney Technical College, where she graduated with a Diploma in Illustration and the College Medal for Highest Honours. She began illustrating books in the 1950s, for writers including Hesba Brinsmead, Christobel Mattingley, Ruth Park, Patricia Wrightson, Emily Rodda and Margaret Wild. She received wide acclaim for her work and was best known for her illustrations for Ruth Park’s Muddle-Headed Wombat series.
Her awards include CBCA commendations for Exploring Australia by Eve Pownall (1959), The Feather Star by Patricia Wrightson (1963), One Sunday Morning Early by Irene Gough (1964), her own book Flip the Flying Possum (1963), The Wish Cat by Jean Chapman (1967). Highly Commended were An Older Kind of Magic by Patricia Wrightson (1973) and Once There Was a Swagman by Hesba Brinsmead (1980). She also received CBCA medals for illustration for Something Special by Emily Rodda (1985), Pigs Might Fly by Emily Rodda (1987) and Grandpa by Lilith Norman (1999).
By Margaret Hamilton
Lilith Norman 1927 – 2017
Lilith Norman was a well-known, award-winning Australian author. She worked as a bookshop assistant and librarian and joined the editorial staff of the NSW School Magazine in 1975. She turned to writing full-time in 1978 and has since won many awards. Her book Climb a Lonely Hill was commended for the CBCA Book of the Year in 1971 and A Dream of Seas was an IBBY Honour Book for 1990. Her first picture book was The Paddock, illustrated by Robert Roennfeldt (1992), then her picture book Grandpa, illustrated by Noela Young, was a 1999 Honour Book for the CBCA awards.
Junko Morimoto 1932 – 2017
Junko Morimoto was a teacher, artist, and award-winning children's picture book creator. Born in Hiroshima in 1932, she later survived the atomic bomb attack of 1945. Junko graduated from Kyoto City University of Fine Art in 1955 and ran the Children’s Art Studio in Osaka from 1965 to 1971 before teaching at a secondary school in Katano City. She migrated to Australia in 1982 and in 1984 her first picture book The White Crane was commended by the CBCA. She went on to create many award-winning picture books including The Inch Boy and A Piece of Straw which were both awarded a Highly Commended by the CBCA in 1985 and 1986 and Kojuro and the Bear and The Two Bullies which both won CBCA Picture Book of the Year in 1987 and 1998. She is perhaps best known for her contemporary classic My Hiroshima, her powerful and moving account of war and survival, which has been translated into many languages and is used in primary and junior secondary schools in the City of Hiroshima. Junko is survived by her son.
Agnes Nieuwenhuizen 1939 – 2017
Agnes Nieuwenhuizen was a teacher, author, commentator and leading authority on youth literature and passionate advocate of reading. Born in Iran to Hungarian parents, Agnes emigrated to Australia in 1949. A secondary school teacher for over 20 years, she specialised in children's and youth literature and in 1991 established the Youth Literature Project which later evolved into the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria. In 1994 she was awarded the Dromkeen medal for her services and work in the field of youth literature. Agnes passed away suddenly in September at her home in Woodend, Victoria. She is survived by her devoted husband, two children and six grandchildren.
Narelle Oliver 1960 – 2016
Narelle Oliver passed away unexpectedly in early October. In partnership with the State Library of Queensland, the Queensland Writers Centre, Books Links (Qld) Inc., and CBCA (Qld Branch), Narelle's family held a deeply moving memorial service on Tuesday, 11 October, at SLQ, where the auditorium overflowed with mourners. One of the speakers Robyn Sheahan-Bright, talked about Narelle's literary legacy, and that speech has been posted at Reading Time. Megan Daley wrote a short personal tribute at her blog, Children's Books Daily.
Kim Gamble 1952 – 2016
Kim Gamble was born in Sydney. He moved around, trained as a teacher and worked in a variety of occupations before beginning, at the age of thirty-six, to illustrate stories for children. His first assignment was for the School Magazine, and he continued illustrating for the magazine for many years. It was there he met Anna Fienberg, with whom he produced more than twenty books, including The Magnificent Nose and Other Marvels, the Tashi series and Tashi picture books, the Minton series and a book close to his heart: Joseph. He worked with many authors and illustrated over seventy books in his career. Joseph was shortlisted for the 2002 CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award. Anna Fienberg’s tribute to Kim can be found at Reading Time Online.
Anne Hanzl 1937 – 2015
A tribute to Anne Hanzl, a long standing member of the CBCA Victorian branch, has been posted at Reading Time Online
Elizabeth Green 1939 – 2014
A personal tribute to Beth Green, a long standing member of the CBCA Qld branch, has been written by Megan Daley and posted at her blog, Children's Books Daily.
Maurice Saxby 1924 – 2014
Maurice Saxby died only weeks before his 90th birthday. His contribution to both Australian's children and young adult literature, and to the CBCA cannot be easily defined or qualified. He received many tributes and awards. One was written by Margaret Hamilton AM and can be viewed at Reading Time Online
Jo Goodman 1940 – 2014
Dr Belle Alderman has written a memorable celebration of Jo's contribution to children's literature. Here is just part of her tribute.
'... Jo was a champion of Australian picture books. She was instrumental in establishing the Crichton award, first presented in 1998 and thereafter annually to encourage and recognise emerging illustrators in the field of Australian picture books. She was behind the organisation of the 1992 Reading the Pictures: A Seminar on Visual Literacy, (publication by the same name), one of the first national seminars where leading Australian picture book illustrators spoke about their art. Over the last few years, Jo has organised the Zart Art Seminars where authors, illustrators and publishers spoke about the art of picture books. Jo made meticulous notes at each of these seminars. These now form a permanent record in the Lu Rees Archives of Australian Children’s Literature ...'
Continue reading at Reading Time Online
Gregory Rogers 1957 – 2013
In honour of Greg's birthday on June 19th, Megan Daley posted this Queensland-flavoured celebratory blog for him.
Jan Ormerod 1946 – 2013
Obituary posted at Publishers Weekly
Max Fatchen 1920 – 2012
A favourite amongst us all, few people in South Australia did not know of Max Fatchen. He began his writing career in Adelaide in his teenage years, writing for The News after 1948 and later for The Advertiser, for which he continued writing a regular column up until the week before he died.
He will be so very well remembered for his children’s stories and poems, many of which remain as treasured titles in school and public libraries – many of you will recall The River Kings, Chase Through the Night, The Spirit Wind, A Paddock of Poems, A Country Christmas and Australia at the Beach. He was the proud patron of the South Australian Branch of The Children’s Book Council of Australia. Whenever I spoke to Max he always wished to be remembered to his ‘friends in the Book Council’ and he commended us all on the fine work the CBCA was doing for children’s writers and for young readers. For many years he wrote a wonderful verse to fit the Book Week theme and his 2012 piece is a special one.
Max will be fondly remembered and his life celebrated by the CBCA.
Diane Margaret Burke OAM 1943 – 2011
Di Burke was an extraordinary enterprising publisher who instigated full colour books and educational kits for primary and secondary school children relating to ANZAC Day and the ANZACs. Her first publication was Tom Curran's Not only a hero, a CBCA Notable Book in 1999. During 2001, Mary Small's The Unknown Australian Soldier was followed by Simpson and Duffy, and Vashti Farrer's Walers go to War. Simpson and Duffy was shortlisted for the Australian Awards for excellence in educational publishing for 2003. Feathered Soldiers co-authored by Vashti Farrer and Mary Small was published in 2005, followed by Seek! co-authored by Di Burke and Mary Small in 2009. Di for us was not only a publisher but a valued friend. She will be sadly missed. (written by Mary Small & Vashti Farrer)
Ian Abdulla 1947 – 2011
Many obituaries have been posted, written and printed various publcations including the Aboriginal Art News and WA Today.
Ruth Park 1917 – 2010
Ruth Park was one of Australia's best loved authors of books for both adults and children. The Australian has an obituary, as does The Sydney Morning Herald and The Independent.
Died Sept 14, 2010.
Kaye Keck passed away peacefully on the evening of Tuesday Sept. 14 2010, after a brief battle with cancer. She was Director, Dromkeen, National Centre for Picture Book Art for many years. Kaye was awarded the Leila St John Award in 2003, presented by the Victorian Branch of the CBCA for distinguished services to children's literature.
Died May 29, 2010. Obiturary from The Australian can be found here.
Died April 4, 2010.
Anne Bower Ingram
Died March 26, 2010. Pioneering children's publisher, editor of Reading Time . Mark MacLeod has written a moving tribute at his blog.
Patricia Wrightson 1921 – 2010.
Patricia Wrightson, the great children's author and recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen award (1986) has died. She was 88 years old. She was without doubt one of the greatest figures ever in Australian children's literature and with her passing ends a remarkable era. Mark MacLeod writes here.
Kilmeny Niland 1950 – 2009
Daughter of Ruth Park and D'arcy Niland, an acclaimed author and illustrator in her own right. The Sydney Morning Herald's obituary.
Died November 15, 2008. According to his daughter, after a short battle with cancer. He won four CBCA awards, and the Carnegie Medal in 1972. He is best known for his novels. Hill's End, Josh and To the Wild Sky. He was 87.
Eleanor Spence AM
Died September 30, 2008. Survived by her three children, Alister, Nigel and Lisette. Her first book, Patterson's Track was published in 1958. She went on to to write many others, covering a wide range of topics. Many of these went on to win accolades and awards, including The Green Laurel (1964) and The October Child (1977). In 2005, she was made a member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to Australian children's literature and her services to autism.
Died June, 2008. Leonie was an inspiration, friend and generous mentor to many people and many writers. She helped publish many authors and illustrators with her publishing company Blue Cat Books. She will be greatly missed by many people.
Died April 18, 2008. Children’s author and Victorian Branch Life Member. Nance wrote prolifically during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and is probably best remembered for her novels “House by the Water” (1969), “Johnny Neptune” (1971) and the biography “Margaret Catchpole”.
Died November 17, 2007. Best known for her definitive works on Australian children's literature and children's book illustration, the best known of these published in 1970, Australian Children's Books: A Bibliography. Her work was recognized by the Children's Book Council of Australia with the first Nan Chauncy Award in 1984 and the Library Council of Australia with the Redmond Barry Award in 1988.
Colin Thiele AC 1920 – 2006
Author and educator. He was renowned for his award-winning children's fiction, most notably the novels Storm Boy, Blue Fin, Sun on the Stubble series, and February Dragon. In 1977 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia, for his services to literature and education.
Died December 11, 2006 after a typically defiant battle with cancer. He was 56 years old. His work is loved and appreciated all over the world. His materials were unpretentious: pen and ink, paint, pencil; his style adventurous and exploratory, in turn anarchic, delicate, fierce, joyous. Neil's books include the award-winning Cat and Fish, Cat and Fish Go to See, Mr Noah and the Cats (published by Lothian) Pirates Eat Porridge (A&U) and many others. His beautiful and poignant memoir The Memory Book (A&U) was recently described by the LA Times as 'an antidote to verbosity and excessive imagery; in its simplicity it reconnects the image to the word and shows the jaded eye how powerful they can be together'.