Glenda Adams

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Glenda Adams
Born Glenda Emilie Felton
(1939-12-30)30 December 1939
Ryde, New South Wales
Died 11 July 2007(2007-07-11) (aged 67)
East Redfern, Sydney
Cause of death
Ovarian cancer
Occupation Novelist and short story writer; Teacher of creative writing
Spouse(s) Gordon Adams (divorced)
Partner(s) Chris Clarke
Children 1

Glenda Emilie Adams (née Felton; 30 December 1939 – 11 July 2007) was an Australian novelist and short story writer, probably best known as the winner of the 1987 Miles Franklin Award for Dancing on Coral. She was a teacher of creative writing, and helped develop writing programs.

Adams' work is found in her own books and short story collections, in numerous short story anthologies, and in journals and magazines.[1] Her essays, stories and articles have been published in, among other magazines, Meanjin, The New York Times Book Review, Panorama, Quadrant, Southerly, Westerly, The Sydney Morning Herald, The (London) Observer and The Village Voice.


Glenda Emilie Felton was born in Ryde, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney, the younger of two children. She attended Fort Street Primary School for two years and Sydney Girls High School before going to the University of Sydney[2] from which she graduated with an honours degree in Indonesian.[3]

She was a cousin of Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, but held opposing political views and wanted to become a political journalist.[3] She moved to New York City when she won a scholarship to study at Columbia University, Graduate School of Journalism and graduated in 1965. During this time, she met Gordon Adams, a political scientist at Columbia. They married in 1967 and had a daughter, Caitlin, before divorcing.

She worked as a lecturer at a number of tertiary institutions, including Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, before returning to Australia and the University of Technology, Sydney. Her subject was writing skills and creative writing. She helped design the master of arts writing program at the university, a program which became a model for postgraduate writing programs throughout Australia.[3] For the rest of her life, she traveled regularly between New York, to see her daughter and teach at Columbia, and Sydney. On 13 July 2007, Jeremy Fisher, Executive Director of the Australian Society of Authors, announced that Glenda Adams had died two days previously in Sydney, following a battle with ovarian cancer. Her funeral was held on 18 July.[4]

Literary career[edit]

Adams started writing at the age of 10, with the encouragement of her mother.[3]

While at Columbia University, she joined a fiction workshop and started writing using her real name, having used a male name prior to that to prevent her friends knowing she was writing fiction.[3] Her short stories were published in such magazines as Ms., The Village Voice and Harper's.

After 16 years away, she returned to Australia and became writer-in-residence at the University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide and Macquarie University. Her literary friends included Australians Robert Drewe and Kate Grenville (for whom she was also a supervising Associate Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney along with Paula Hamilton for Grenville's Doctorate of Creative Writing in 2006[5]), and the American Grace Paley.[3]

In 1987, her second novel, Dancing on Coral won the Miles Franklin Award and the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award but a residential rule for the latter resulted in her being denied it. Instead, the prize money was used for a fellowship for a young writer and she was compensated with a special award (with no money attached).[3] Her third novel, Longleg, published in 1990, was also an award-winner. Her fourth novel, The Tempest of Clemenza was published in both Australia and the USA in 1996, and in 1998, her play, The Monkey Trap, was performed at the Griffin Theatre, in Sydney.




Short story collections[edit]


  • Pride (1993)[6]
  • Wrath (1993)
  • The Monkey Trap commissioned by Griffin Theatre, Sydney (1998)


  1. ^ "Glenda Adams Publications and Scripts March 2004". Bryn Mawr. Archived from the original on 14 May 2007. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  2. ^ "MS 76 Guide to the Papers of Glenda Adams". Academy Library, UNSW@ADFA. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Dale (2007) p. 14
  4. ^ "Adams, Glenda". AustLit. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  5. ^ Searching for the secret river, 2006-12-06, accessed 2009-08-02
  6. ^ "Glenda Adams". IMDb. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 


External links[edit]