Feature Week 37: Canberra Anthology
It's week 37 of the National Year of Reading and we feature Jackie French and Marion Halligan, authors who have both contributed to 'The invisible thread: one hundred years of words', an anthology that celebrates both the National Year of Reading 2012 and the Centenary of Canberra 2013.
Born and educated in Newcastle, NSW, Marion worked as a school teacher and journalist before publishing her first short stories. Except for brief periods in Paris, Marion has spent her adult years in Canberra. She has written many fiction and non-fiction books, in addition to short stories, book reviews and essays for a number of publications. Marion has won the ACT Book of the Year award on three occasions and been shortlisted for, and won, many other literary prizes.
For many years she was a member of 'Seven Writers', a group of women writers based in Canberra. They offered each other mutual support and met to critique each other's work, publishing 'Canberra Tales' a book of short stories that captured the essence of urban Australian life. A second edition was released under the title 'The division of love'.
Marion served as chairperson of the Literature Board of the Australia Council and the Australian National Word Festival. In recognition of her services to literature and for her work in promoting Australian literature, Marion was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2006. Her expertise has enabled her to make a vital contribution as a member of 'The invisible thread' Advisory Committee and her work is also featured in the anthology.
Marion's latest book, 'Shooting the fox', is her fifth collection of short stories with a unifying theme of people looking for happiness. It was shortlisted for the 2012 Queensland Literary Awards.
Marion's reading habits
- When do you read? Are you a constant reader or are there times when you don't read at all? I read all the time, constantly. There is never a time when I am not reading.
- Do you have a favourite genre? Fiction is my favourite genre.
- What's the book you've read most often?
The book I have read most often is 'Vanity fair', by William Thackeray.
- Which book is by your bedside right now?
'The ambassadors', by Henry James.
- Do you have lots of books on the go at once, or just one? I always have a number of books on the go at once.
- What's the first book you can remember reading or having read to you?
The first book I claimed to read was 'Sleeping beauty', but I think it was more memorised than read.
- Do your ever cheat and read the end of the book first? I never read the end of a book first. If I am reading a book I read every word, some more than once; if I don't feel moved to do this, I stop reading.
- Was your family a reading family? Yes, my family loved to read. No television, not even the wireless.
- Do you have a favourite book from your childhood?
'The rocks of han', by Pixie O'Harris, is my favourite childhood book.
- Do you use your local public library? Yes, I am very keen on my local library. My house is overflowing with books, I am trying (and failing) to stop acquiring more.
Marion's favourite reads
'The rocks of han', by Pixie O'Harris.
I got it when I was five and just loved it. Quite a lot of reading in it and the most wonderful illustrations which were absolutely right; so often one's own imagination was so much better.
John Mystery Annuals.
Yearly Christmas presents, post Second World War, when books and the paper for them were in very short supply. Full of stories to nourish the imagination.
'The children's book' by A S Byatt, An enormous amazing piece of writing, about the late Victorians and Edwardians and their love of art and storytelling and how they betrayed their children by leading them into the First World War. Immensely poignant.
As part of the National Year of Reading and Canberra Centenary celebrations, an anthology 'The invisible thread: one hundred years of words', edited by Irma Gold, is NOW AVAILABLE. It features contributions from 75 writers who have an association with the Canberra region, including the work of several National Year of Reading ambassadors and friends including Jackie French, Jack Heath, Garth Nix, Alan Gould, Omar Musa and Marion Halligan.
With illustrations by Judy Horacek, a foreword by Robyn Archer, and a mix of short stories, novel extracts, poetry, essays and non-fiction and covering a wide range subjects, 'The invisible thread' will be officially launched in November at the National Library of Australia during the National Year of Reading legacy event.
For more information about the anthology, take a look at the following links:
Irma Gold, the editor of 'The invisible thread' has produced a series of interviews with contributors to the anthology. Here's the first in a two part series with Jackie French:
Other interviews, including one with fellow National Year of Reading ambassador Omar Musa can be found at the following link:
Want to know more?
- You might be interested in taking a look at our other featured ambassador for this week, Jackie French:
- If you want to see the other National Year of Reading ambassadors, go to our ambassadors page.
- Other featured ambassadors can be found on the ambassador feature week listing.