Kate Grenville is one of Australia's best-known authors. She's published nine books of fiction and four books about the writing process. Her best-known works are the international best-seller The Secret River, The Idea of Perfection, The Lieutenant and Lilian's Story (details about all Kate Grenville's books are listed under the Books menu item). Her novels have won many awards both in Australia and the UK, several have been made into major feature films, and all have been translated into European and Asian languages.
Kate Grenville was born in Sydney, Australia. After completing an Arts degree at Sydney University she worked in the film industry (mainly as an editor) before living in the UK and Europe for several years and starting to write.
In 1980 she went to the USA and completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Colorado, where her teachers included Ron Sukenick, Robert Steiner and Steve Katz.
On her return to Australia in 1983 she worked at the Subtitling Unit for SBS Television. In 1984 her first book, a collection of stories – Bearded Ladies – was published.
Since then she's published eight novels, three books about the writing process (one co-written with Sue Woolfe), and a memoir about writing The Secret River (Searching for the Secret River). In 2006 she was awarded a Doctorate of Creative Arts from UTS, Sydney and has also been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney and Macquarie University. In 2017 she was awarded the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature for her "outstanding and lifelong contribution to Australian literature".
The Secret River (2005) has won many prizes, including the Commonwealth Prize for Literature and the Christina Stead Prize. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Award. Since publication it has become an international best-seller and has been translated into many languages. (It also formed the basis for a Doctorate of Creative Arts from University of Technology, Sydney.) The stage adaptation by Neil Armfield, Stephen Page and Andrew Bovell won many awards and had sell-out performances in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth. The play will be a major event at the 2017 Adelaide Festival. A TV mini-series based on the novel was broadcast in late 2015.
The Idea of Perfection (2000) won the Orange Prize, Lilian's Story (1985) was awarded the Vogel/Australian Prize, and Dark Places (1995) won the Victorian Premier's Prize.
Kate Grenville's other works of fiction have been published to acclaim in Australia and overseas, and have appeared in translation: Dreamhouse (1986), Joan Makes History (1988), The Lieutenant (2008) and Sarah Thornhill (2011) have become classics, admired by critics and general readers alike.
Sarah Thornhill (2011) is the sequel to The Secret River. It's a story about what happens when you uncover dark secrets from the past, and is told through the voice of the youngest daughter of William Thornhill of The Secret River. Together with The Lieutenant and The Secret River, it forms a loose trilogy about the first three generations of colonial Australia.
Lilian's Story was filmed starring Ruth Cracknell, Toni Collette and Barry Otto. Dreamhouse was filmed under the title Traps, starring Jacqueline MacKenzie.
Kate Grenville's books about the writing process – The Writing Book, Making Stories and Writing From Start to Finish – and her memoir Searching for the Secret River are used in many writing courses in schools and universities.
In 2015 she published One Life: My Mother's Story. Grenville used the fragments of memoir that her mother left to tell the story of Nance Russell, a remarkable person whose life spanned the twentieth century – a time of extraordinary changes that offered a new world of opportunity, especially to women.
Her latest book (published February 2017) is The Case Against Fragrance, a non-fiction book investigating synthetic scents and their effects on our health.