Geraldine Brooks (writer)

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Geraldine Brooks

Brooks in 2022
Brooks in 2022
Born (1955-09-14) 14 September 1955 (age 68)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
OccupationJournalist, writer
EducationUniversity of Sydney (BA)
Columbia University (MA)
GenreHistorical fiction
(m. 1984; died 2019)

Geraldine Brooks AO (born 14 September 1955)[1] is an Australian-American journalist and novelist whose 2005 novel March won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Early life[edit]

A native of Sydney, Geraldine Brooks grew up in its inner-west suburb of Ashfield. Her father, Lawrie Brooks, was an American big-band singer who was stranded in Adelaide on a tour of Australia when his manager absconded with the band's pay; he decided to remain in Australia, and became a newspaper sub-editor. Her mother Gloria, from Boorowa, was a public relations officer with radio station 2GB in Sydney.[2] She attended Bethlehem College, a secondary school for girls, and the University of Sydney. Following graduation, she was a rookie reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and, after winning a Greg Shackleton Memorial Scholarship, moved to the United States, completing a master's degree at New York City's Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1983.[3] The following year, in the Southern France artisan village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup, she married American journalist Tony Horwitz and converted to Judaism.[4]


As a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, she covered crises in Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East. The stories from the Persian Gulf that she and her husband reported in 1990 received the Overseas Press Club's Hal Boyle Award for "Best Newspaper or Wire Service Reporting from Abroad".[5] In 2006, she was awarded a fellowship at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.[6]

Brooks's first book, Nine Parts of Desire (1994), based on her experiences among Muslim women in the Middle East, was an international bestseller, translated into 17 languages. Foreign Correspondence (1997), which won the Nita Kibble Literary Award for women's writing, was a memoir and travel adventure about a childhood enriched by penpals from around the world, and her adult quest to find them.

Her first novel, Year of Wonders, published in 2001, became an international bestseller. Set in 1666, the story depicts a young woman's battle to save fellow villagers as well as her own soul when the bubonic plague suddenly strikes her small Derbyshire village of Eyam.

Her next novel, March (2005), was inspired by her fondness for Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, which her mother had given her. To connect that memorable reading experience to her new status in 2002 as an American citizen, she researched the Civil War historical setting of Little Women and decided to create a chronicle of wartime service for the "absent father" of the March girls. Some aspects of this chronicle were informed by the life and philosophical writings of the Alcott family patriarch, Amos Bronson Alcott, whom she profiled under the title "Orpheus at the Plough", in the 10 January 2005 issue of The New Yorker, a month before March was published. The parallel novel received a mixed reaction from critics, but was nonetheless selected in December 2005 by the Washington Post as one of the five best fiction works published that year, and in April 2006, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.[7] She was eligible for the prize by virtue of her American citizenship, and was the first Australian to win the prize.

In her next novel, People of the Book (2008), Brooks explored a fictionalized history of the Sarajevo Haggadah. This novel was inspired by her reporting (for The New Yorker) of human interest stories emerging in the aftermath of the 1991–95 breakup of Yugoslavia.[8] The novel won both the Australian Book of the Year Award and the Australian Literary Fiction Award in 2008.[9]

Her 2011 novel Caleb's Crossing is inspired by the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, a Wampanoag convert to Christianity who was the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College, in the seventeenth century.[10]

Brooks, at the invitation of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, delivered the 2011 series of the prestigious Boyer Lectures. These have been published as "The Idea of Home",[11] and reveal her passionate humanist values.

The Secret Chord (2015) is a historical novel based on the life of the biblical King David in the Second Iron Age.[12][13]

In 2016, Brooks visited Israel, as part of a project by the "Breaking the Silence" organization, to write an article for a book on the Israeli occupation, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War.[14][15] The book was edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, and was published under the title "Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation", in June 2017.[16]

Horse (2022) is a historical novel based upon the racing horse Lexington. It quickly became a New York Times Best Seller.[17] It won the 2023 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction.[18]




Year Title Publisher ISBN OCLC
2022 Horse Viking Press ISBN 9780399562969 OCLC 1329421472
2015 The Secret Chord Hachette Australia ISBN 9780733632174 OCLC 946487809
2011 Caleb's Crossing HarperCollins Publishers Australia ISBN 9780143121077 OCLC 861687308
2008 People of the Book Viking Penguin ISBN 9781460750858 OCLC 910657795
2005 March Harper Perennial ISBN 9780143115007 OCLC 1055419299
2001 Year of Wonders Fourth Estate ISBN 9781841154589 OCLC 883638361


Personal life[edit]

While retaining her Australian citizenship, Brooks became a United States citizen in 2002.[24][25]

She has two sons with her husband Tony Horwitz, Nathaniel and Bizu. Tony died suddenly in 2019 while away on a book tour.


  1. ^ "Geraldine Brooks". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  2. ^ Larry Schwartz, "Author of her own success", The Age, 22 April 2006, Encounter, p. 8
  3. ^ "Geraldine Brooks interviewed by Julia Baird for ABC Sunday Profile". 23 April 2006. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  4. ^ "The wandering Haggadah: Novel follows journey of ancient Sephardic text (J. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California, 25 January 2008)". 25 January 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  5. ^ "OPC Awards: 1990 Award Winners". Overseas Press Club of America. Archived from the original on 3 November 2004. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
  6. ^ "Fellows". Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  7. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes — 2006 Winners". The Pulitzer Board. Archived from the original on 20 December 2006. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
  8. ^ "The Book of Exodus". The New Yorker. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
  9. ^ "Brooks Wins Book of the Year Award". Sydney Morning Herald. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
  10. ^ Atlas, Amelia (17 April 2011). "Pride of the Indian College". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  11. ^ "The Novels". 27 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  12. ^ "The Secret Chord". Author website. 20 July 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  13. ^ Hoffman, Alice (28 September 2015). "Geraldine Brooks reimagines King David's life in 'The Secret Chord'". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  14. ^ Zeveloff, Naomi; The Forward (18 April 2016). "Renowned Authors Learn About Occupation Firsthand in Breaking the Silence Tour". Haaretz.
  15. ^ Cain, Sian (17 February 2016). "Leading authors to write about visiting Israel and the occupied territories". The Guardian.
  16. ^ "Kingdom of Olives and Ash Writers Confront the Occupation By Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman". Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  17. ^ "The New York Times Best Sellers". The New York Times. 3 July 2022. Retrieved 2 July 2022.
  18. ^ "Geraldine Brooks, Saeed Jones win Anisfield-Wolf prize". 4 April 2023. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  19. ^ "GERALDINE BROOKS". Aspen Words. Retrieved 26 June 2023.
  20. ^ "Brooks wins Book of the Year award", The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 June 2008
  21. ^ Althea Peterson, "2009 Helmerich award winner has unusual past", Tulsa World, 19 February 2009.
  22. ^ LLC, D. Verne Morland, Digital Stationery International. "Dayton Literary Peace Prize - Geraldine Brooks, 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award". Retrieved 28 June 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ "'Runt' wins 2023 Indie Book of the Year". Books+Publishing. 22 March 2023. Retrieved 22 March 2023.
  24. ^ "Geraldine Brooks biographical details at NNDB". Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  25. ^ Marquis Who's Who (2009). New Providence: Reed Reference Electronic Publishing

Further reading[edit]

  • Cunningham, Sophie (June 2011). "Caleb goes to Harvard". Australian Book Review (332): 55–56. Review of Caleb's crossing.
  • Steggall, Stephany (March 2012). "Geraldine Brooks". Celebration. Australian Authors Past & Present. Australian Author. 44 (1): 22–25.

External links[edit]