Kathryn Heyman

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Kathryn Heyman (born 1965) is an Australian writer of novels and plays.


Born in New South Wales, she was brought up in Lake Macquarie with her four siblings. Her parents divorced when she was six.[1]

She trained for an acting career in Queensland, after a year with a theatre company in Sydney.[2][3] Then came extended periods in Darwin, Northern Territory and Perth, Western Australia.[1] Heyman also spent a decade living in the United Kingdom, where she was first published.[4]

Heyman is the author of five novels: The Breaking (1997), Keep Your Hands on the Wheel (1999), The Accomplice (2003) Captain Starlight's Apprentice (2006) and Floodline (2013).[5] She is also a playwright for theatre and radio and has held a number of creative writing fellowships in the UK and Australia. Her short stories have appeared in a number of collections and also on radio.

Heyman's first novel, The Breaking, was longlisted for the Orange Prize, and shortlisted for the Scottish Writer of the Year Award.[6] Her third, The Accomplice, won an Arts Council England Writer's Award and was shortlisted for the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards. The Accomplice is a fictional account of the wreck of the Dutch flagship the Batavia off the Australian coast in the 17th century. As a meditation on complicity with evil it has been compared with the work of Joseph Conrad and William Golding.[7]

Her fourth novel, Captain Starlight's Apprentice, features a woman bushranger, the birth (and near death) of the Australian film industry, and a British migrant to Australia who undergoes electroconvulsive therapy. In 2007 the novel was shortlisted for the Nita Kibble Literary Award.

Floodline, published 2013, is set during the aftermath of a great flood, and has been compared with the writing of Cormac McCarthy.[8] Heyman's writing has also been compared with that of Angela Carter,[9] David Malouf,[10] Peter Carey and Kate Grenville.[11]

Heyman's work has appeared on BBC Radio 4, and a five-part dramatic adaptation of Captain Starlight's Apprentice was broadcast on Woman's Hour in April 2007.[12] In 2013 she delivered the NSW Premier's Literary Awards Address.[13]



  • The Princess Who Couldn't Fly (and a Word or Two About the Crippled King) (1990)
  • Unreal (1991)
  • Sex, Lies and Model Aeroplanes (1991) with David Lennie and Paul Tolton
  • Exodus (1993) with David Purveur
  • Dancing on the Word (1993)
  • That's The Way to Do It (1994) with Jo Enright
  • Far Country (2002) starring Kerry Fox
  • Keep Your Hands on the Wheel (2003) starring Kerry Fox
  • Moonlight's Boy (2005)
  • Captain Starlight's Apprentice (2007)


  • Australia Council Established Writers New Work Grant 2006 – 2008[14]
  • Kibble Prize shortlist, (Captain Starlight's Apprentice)[15]
  • Arts Council of England Writer's Award, (The Accomplice)[16]
  • Western Australian Premier's Book Awards shortlist, (The Accomplice)[17]
  • Wingate Scholarship, (The Accomplice)[18]
  • Southern Arts Writers Award (Keep Your Hands on the Wheel)[19]
  • Orange Prize longlist, (The Breaking)[20]
  • Stakis Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year shortlist, (The Breaking)[21]
  • Hallam Poetry Prize, 1996[22]


  1. ^ a b Jodie Minus, "The Face: Kathryn Heyman", Weekend Australian, 17-18 May 2003, Review, p. R3
  2. ^ Biography: "Kathryn Heyman", Royal Literary Fund
  3. ^ Biography: Kathryn Heyman, Austlit Database
  4. ^ Heyman, 'There's no place like home' Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, no. 15 July 2006, pp. 31–32.
  5. ^ Allen & Unwin, publisher
  6. ^ McMillan,Joyce, A familiar fear and loathing, [1]Glasgow Herald Friday 21 November 1997
  7. ^ Chevalier, Tracey et al "Summer Reading", The Guardian, 2003
  8. ^ Clarke,Stella, [2] City's souls lost and saved in the flood, The Australian, 14 September 2013
  9. ^ Sanders, Kate The Times 27 May 2006
  10. ^ Duncan, Shirley J. Paolini, 'Outlaw odyssey.(Captain Starlight's Apprentice)(Book review)' Antipodes, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 89(2).
  11. ^ White, Judith The Bulletin 30 May 2006
  12. ^ BBC – Woman's Hour Drama – Captain Starlight's Apprentice
  13. ^ http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/about/awards/premiers_awards/nsw_premiers_literary_awards/2013/2013_nsw_premiers_literary_awards_address.html
  14. ^ "Literature Board Assessment Meeting Report" (PDF). Australia Council. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "History of Shortlisted Authors" (PDF). Kibble Literary Awards. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "Literary Cash Boost for Authors". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  17. ^ "2003 Shortlist". Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Archive. State Library of Western Australia. 
  18. ^ "Record of Wingate Scholars 1988–2011" (PDF). Wingate Scholarships Anniversary Archive. Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  19. ^ "Kathryn Heyman". Royal Literary Fund Fellowship Scheme. Royal Literary Fund. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  20. ^ "Longlist 1998". Women's Prize for Fiction. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  21. ^ "Mother & Child Reunion". The Scotsman. The Scotsman. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  22. ^ "Kathryn Heyman". Royal Literary Fund Fellowship Scheme. Royal Literary Fund. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 

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