Shirley Hazzard

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Shirley Hazzard
Shirley hazzard australian writer mercantile library for fiction benefit awards dinner october 29 2007 photo by christopher peterson.jpg
Hazzard in 2007
Born (1931-01-30) 30 January 1931 (age 85)
Nationality Australian
Notable works The Great Fire
The Bay of Noon
Notable awards O. Henry Award
National Book Award
Miles Franklin Award
William Dean Howells Medal
National Book Critics Circle Award
Spouse Francis Steegmuller

Shirley Hazzard (born 30 January 1931) is an Australian author of fiction and non-fiction. She was born in Australia, but holds citizenship of the United Kingdom and the United States.[1] Her 1970 novel, The Bay of Noon, was shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize in 2010[2] and her 2003 novel The Great Fire won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.[3]


Hazzard was born in Sydney and attended Queenwood School for Girls in Mosman, but left in 1947 to travel through Southeast Asia with her parents. Her first landing was Hiroshima.[4] Her diplomat father took her to Hong Kong, and then she was "brutally removed by destiny"[5] to New Zealand where her father was Australian Trade Commissioner. Hazzard says of her experience of the East that "I began to feel that people could enjoy life, should enjoy life".[5]

Hazzard's early life "was a carbon copy of Helen Driscoll's" (the heroine of The Great Fire). Helen and her brother, the dying Benedict, are described as "wonderfully well-read, a poetic pair who live in literature."[4] Poetry, she says, has always been the centre of her life.

She travelled to Italy in 1956, and worked for a year in Naples.

In 1963, Hazzard married the writer Francis Steegmuller, who died in 1994. As of 2006, she lives in New York City, frequently travelling to her Italian residence in Capri.


Hazzard is the author of four novels and two collections of short fiction. Her first book, the story collection Cliffs of Fall, was published in 1963. In 1977 her short story "A Long Story Short", originally published in The New Yorker on 26 July 1976, received an O. Henry Award.

The Transit of Venus, her third novel, won the 1980 National Book Critics Circle Award.[6] Her next novel, The Great Fire, which took her 20 years to complete, garnered the 2003 National Book Award,[3] the 2004 Miles Franklin Award, and the 2005 William Dean Howells Medal. It was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, longlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize, and named a 2003 Book of the Year by The Economist.[7] Her second novel, The Bay of Noon, was nominated for the Lost Man Booker Prize.

In addition to fiction, Hazzard has written two books critical of the United Nations: Defeat of an Ideal (1973) and Countenance of Truth (1990); and Greene on Capri, a memoir of her friendship with Graham Greene.[8] Her most recent work of nonfiction, The Ancient Shore: Dispatches from Naples (2008) is a collection of writings on Naples, Italy, co-authored by her late husband, Francis Steegmuller.

In 1984 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation invited Hazzard to give the Boyer Lectures, a series of radio talks delivered each year by a prominent Australian. The talks were published the following year under the title Coming of Age in Australia.[9]

In 2012 a conference was held in her honor at the New York Society Library and Columbia University.[10]



Short story collections[edit]

  • Cliffs of Fall and Other Stories (1963)
  • People in Glass Houses (1967)


  • Defeat of an Ideal: A Study of the Self-destruction of the United Nations (1973)
  • Coming of Age in Australia (1985)
  • Countenance of Truth: The United Nations and the Waldheim Case (1990)
  • Greene on Capri: A Memoir (2000)
  • The Ancient Shore: Dispatches from Naples (2008) (with Francis Steegmuller)


  1. ^ "Shirley Hazzard with Sally Loane". 702 ABC Sydney. Retrieved 2006-12-15. [dead link]
  2. ^ Hoyle, Ben (26 March 2010). "Author waits to hear if she has won 'lost Booker' prize 40 years on". The Times. Retrieved 7 April 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 2003". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
    (With acceptance speech by Hazzard, introduction by Antonya Nelson (dead link 2012-03-27), and essays by Julie Barer and Cecily Patterson from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  4. ^ a b Lawson (2004) p. 31
  5. ^ a b cited by Lawson (2004) p. 31
  6. ^ "National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction". Powell's Books website. Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-22. 
  7. ^ "Words of love and war". The Economist. 30 October 2003. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  8. ^ Greene on Capri: A Memoir
  9. ^ Coming of Age in Australia: book details
  10. ^ Shirley Hazzard Symposium

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]