Patricia Wrightson

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Patricia Wrightson
Born Alice Patricia Furlonger
(1921-07-19)19 July 1921
Lismore, New South Wales, Australia
Died 15 March 2010(2010-03-15) (aged 88)
Lismore, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation Writer, editor
Language English
Nationality Australian
Period 1955–?
Genre Children's literature,folklore, magic realism
Subject Fantasy (nonfiction)
Notable awards Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing
Order of the British Empire

Patricia Wrightson OBE (19 June 1921 – 15 March 2010) was an Australian writer of several highly regarded and influential children's books.[1] Her reputation came to rest largely on her magic realist titles. Her books, including the widely praised The Nargun and The Stars (1973), were among the first Australian books for children to draw on Australian Aboriginal mythology.[2] Her 27 books have been published in 16 languages.[3]

For her "lasting contribution" as a children's writer she received the biennial Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1986.[4][5]

Literary career[edit]

She was born on 19 June 1921 in Lismore, New South Wales. Her formal education came largely through a state correspondence school set up for children in the country.[2] During World War II, she worked in a munitions factory in Sydney. In the mid-60s she became assistant editor, and later editor, of the School Magazine, a literary publication for children.[2]

She wrote 27 books during her lifetime and entwined Australian Aboriginal mythology into her writing. As her writing developed, Wrightson's work revealed two key characteristics: her use of Aboriginal folklore, with its rich fantasy and mystery, and her understanding of the importance of the land.

She died of "natural causes" on 15 March 2010, a few days after entering a New South Wales hospital.[3]

The Patricia Wrightson Award for Children's Literature was established in 1979 in her honour.[citation needed]


The biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award conferred by the International Board on Books for Young People is the highest career recognition available to a writer or illustrator of children's books. Wrightson was a runner-up for the writing award in 1984 and won it in 1986.[4][5] The illustration winner that year was Robert Ingpen, who had collaborated with Wrightson on The Nargun and the Stars (1973), her fantasy novel based on Aboriginal mythology. They remain the only Australians among more than 60 Andersen Medal recipients.[4]

Wrightson was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1977[6] and she won the Australian Dromkeen Medal in 1984, also for her cumulative service to children's literature.[7][8]

Many of her books made the shortlist for the annual Australian Children's Book of the Year Award, which she won four times: in 1956 for her debut novel The Crooked Snake, in 1974 for The Nargun and The Stars, in 1978 for The Ice is Coming and in 1984 for A Little Fear.

Wrightson won the Ditmar Award from the annual Australian National Science Fiction Convention in 1982 for Behind the Wind, as the year's Best Long Australian Science Fiction or Fantasy.

Selected works[edit]

  • The Crooked Snake (1955). Winner CBA Book of the Year 1956.
  • The Bunyip Hole (1958). Commended CBA Book of the Year 1959.
  • The Rocks of Honey (1960)
  • The Feather Star (1962). Commended CBA Book of the Year 1963.
  • Down to Earth (1965)
  • A Racecourse for Andy (1968)
  • I Own the Racecourse! (1968). Highly commended CBA Book of the Year 1969.
  • Beneath the Sun: an Australian collection for children (1972)
  • An Older Kind of Magic (1972). Highly commended CBA Book of the Year 1973.
  • The Nargun and the Stars (1973). Winner CBA Book of the Year 1974.
  • Emu Stew: an illustrated collection of stories and poems for children (1976)
  • The Human Experience of Fantasy (1978)
  • Night Outside (1979)
  • Journey Behind the Wind (1981)
  • A Little Fear (1983). Winner CBA Book of the Year 1984.
  • The Haunted Rivers (1983)
  • Moon-Dark (1987)
  • The Song of Wirrun (1987)
    • The Ice Is Coming (1977). Winner CBA Book of the Year 1978.
    • The Dark Bright Water (1978)
    • Behind the Wind aka Journey Behind the Wind (1981) Highly commended CBA Book of the Year 1982.
  • Manmorker (1989)
  • Balyet (1989). Shortlist CBA Book of the Year: Older Readers 1990.
  • The Old, Old Ngarang (1989)
  • The Sugar-Gum Tree (1991). Shortlist CBA Book of the Year: Younger Readers 1992.
  • Shadows of Time (1994)
  • Rattler's Place (1997). Honour Book CBA Book of the Year: Younger Readers 1998 (in Aussie Bites series)
  • The Water Dragons (in Aussie Bites series)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Obituary The Times, 23 April 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Eccleshare, Julia (9 May 2010). "Patricia Wrightson obituary: Australian children's author inspired by Aboriginal folklore". The Guardian.
  3. ^ a b McGuirk, Rod (March 2010). "Australian author Patricia Wrightson dies at 88". Reprint at Associated Press. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Patricia Wrightson" (pp. 73–74, by Eva Glistrup). "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002" (pp. 110–18).
    The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online ( Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  6. ^ It's an Honour website
  7. ^ "Dromkeen Medal". Scholastic. Retrieved 15 July 2007. 
  8. ^ "About the Author". In Patricia Wrightson, The Nargun and The Stars, Puffin Books, 1973. ISBN 0-14-030780-X.

External links[edit]