Ken Spillman

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Ken Spillman
Born (1959-06-11) 11 June 1959 (age 55)
London, England, United Kingdom
Pen name Kenneth Gaunt
Alma mater Newman College, Perth, Griffith University, Murdoch University

Ken Spillman (born 11 June 1959) is a writer based in Perth, Western Australia. Best known as a prolific author of books for children and young adults, his work has spanned diverse genres including poetry, sports writing and literary criticism. His output also includes a large number of books relating to aspects of Australian social history.

Born in London to Australian parents, Spillman spent his childhood in Sydney and Perth. He was active in amateur theatre during his teens and also performed in a school rock band. Encouraged to write by a teacher at Newman College, Perth, he began publishing poetry and stories after moving to Brisbane to attend Griffith University.

From 1977 Spillman began an association with Griffith University academic Ross Fitzgerald, researching Fitzgerald’s book From the Dreaming to 1915: A History of Queensland. The pair later collaborated in compiling a landmark collection of literary writing on Australian football, The Greatest Game, as well as Fathers in Writing.

Spillman's first major solo publication was concerning the history of Subiaco, Western Australia (Identity Prized)[1]—and he returned for a follow-up history some 20 years later.[2] Tied in with writing and research of the Subiaco book, he also conducted interviews which are now part of the Battye Library oral history collection.

After a successful full-length fiction debut in 1999 with the highly acclaimed novel Blue, Spillman wrote children's books with comedian Jon Doust. One of these, Magpie Mischief was shortlisted for a Wilderness Society Environment Award. Subsequently, Spillman's 2007 novel for teenagers, Love is a UFO won the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards.

Spillman's international success can be traced to the launch of the 'Jake series' of books for early readers, which began with Jake's Gigantic List in 2009.[3] A celebration of books and reading, Jake's Gigantic List is dedicated to the Children's Book Council of Australia, to which Spillman has donated royalties. The six books in the 'Jake series' have appeared in many nations and languages, and the series is especially popular in India.

In 2011, Spillman launched another series for young readers titled The Absolutely True Fantasies of Daydreamer Dev. The third book in this series, Daydreamer Dev Crosses the Sahara, was released in 2012.


Includes two books with Jon Doust.

  • (1985) Identity prized : a history of Subiaco Nedlands, W.A. : University of Western Australia Press for the City of Subiaco ISBN 0-85564-239-4
  • (1988) Custodians and champions : the story of the City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club Perth, W.A : The Club. ISBN 0-7316-4257-0
  • (1989) Horizons: A history of the R&I Bank of Western Australia / Nedlands, W.A. : University of Western Australia Press, ISBN 0-85564-303-X
  • (1993) A rich endowment : government and mining in Western Australia 1829-1994 Nedlands, W.A : University of Western Australia Press for the Dept. of Minerals and Energy in association with the Centre for Western Australian History, the University of Western Australia, ISBN 1-875560-23-8
  • (1997) A club for all seasons : the story of the Wembley Athletic Club 1926-1996 / by Andy Collins and Ken Spillman. Wembley, W.A. : The Club, 1997. ISBN 0-646-32355-5 (pbk.
  • (1998, 2000) Diehards : the story of the Subiaco Football Club Subiaco, W.A. : Subiaco Football Club, 1896-2000. ISBN 0-646-35834-0 (pt. I) ISBN 0-9578185-0-5 (pt. II)
  • (1999) Blue : a novel / South Fremantle, W.A. : Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1999. ISBN 1-86368-244-9 (pbk.)
  • (2003) Life was meant to be here : community and local government in the Shire of Mundaring Mundaring, W.A. : Shire of Mundaring, ISBN 0-9592776-2-5
  • (2005) Hands to the plough : the Shire of Victoria Plains since 1945 . Calingiri, W.A. : Shire of Victoria Plains..ISBN 0646455877
  • (2006) Tales of a singular city : Subiaco since the 1970s . Subiaco, W.A. : City of Subiaco. ISBN 0-9590016-6-2
  • (2006) Raising Edith : the transformation of a new generation university : Edith Cowan University 1995-2005 Mount Lawley, W.A. : Edith Cowan University. ISBN 0-7298-0618-9
  • (2009) Jake’s Gigantic List / South Fremantle, W.A. : Fremantle Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1-921361-71-5
  • (2010) Jake’s Monster Mess / South Fremantle, W.A. : Fremantle Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-921696-03-9
  • (2010) Jake’s Balloon Blast / Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia : Scholastic Inc, 2010. ISBN 978-1-921696-55-8


  1. ^ Ken Spillman - literary award brings problems'. The West Australian, 6 June 1986, p. 11 f-g also Ken Spillman - wins prize for book on Subiaco West Australian, 28 Feb. 1986, p. 14 f-g
  2. ^ Spillman, Ken (2006): Tales of a singular city : Subiaco since the 1970s. Subiaco, W.A. : City of Subiaco, 2006.ISBN 0-9590016-6-2.
  3. ^ Murphy, David (2009-11-01), "Spillman, Ken (text) Chris Nixon (illus.): Jake's Giant List.(Brief article)(Book review)", Reading Time (Children's Book Council of Australia) 53 (4): 30(1), ISSN 0155-218X 

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