Sydney Writers' Festival

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Sydney Writers' Festival
GenreLiterary festival
Location(s)Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Years active22

Sydney Writers' Festival is an annual literary festival held in Sydney. The Festival's artistic director is Michaela McGuire.[1]


The festival began in January 1997,[2][3] with most events initially held at the State Library of New South Wales. The first independent Sydney Writers' Festival ran from 12–17 May 1998, with 169 participants appearing in venues in, and around, the centre of Sydney.

Since then, the Festival has rapidly expanded. The Festival moved from Walsh Bay to Carriageworks in May 2018 (Walsh Bay is undergoing a major refurbishment). Events were also held at venues stretching across Sydney, from the City Recital Hall and Sydney Town Hall in the city centre, into suburban Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

Held mid-to-late May each year, the Festival now involves over 400 participants and presents over 300 events in renovated piers in Walsh Bay, Sydney. Other festival locations include Sydney Theatre, Sydney Town Hall, City Recital Hall, and Sydney Opera House. Events are also regularly held in regional and suburban locations including Parramatta, Ashfield, Auburn, Blacktown, Bankstown, Campbelltown, Hornsby, Penrith, the Blue Mountains, and Wollongong.

Approximately one-third of all Sydney Writers' Festival events are free of charge. Festival attendances have reached over 90,000 each year since 2007.

Sydney Writers' Festival Limited is a not-for-profit company with an independent board of directors. The inaugural Chair of the Festival was Geraldine Doogue, who held the position for three years. Sandra Yates AO became Chair in late 2000, retiring on 31 December 2011. Deena Shiff was the Chair 1 January 2012 through to February 2018. Mark Scott was appointed chair in February 2018. The Festival Director in 1998 was John Nieuwenhuizen, with Meredith Curnow the Program Director. Meredith Curnow became Festival Director for the period 1999–2002. Caro Llewellyn was Artistic Director and Chief executive from 2003 to 2006. Wendy Were was Artistic Director and CEO for the three festivals, from 2007 to 2009. Chip Rolley became the Festival's Artistic Director in the middle of 2009, programming the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Festivals. Jemma Birrell was the Festival's Artistic Director for the four Festivals 2013–2016. In 2016, Michaela McGuire was appointed as the Festival's new Artistic Director. Ben Strout was the Festival's Executive Director from 2009 to 2014. Jo Dyer was the Executive Director from 2015; and was promoted to CEO in November 2016, when she also joined the Festival board of directors. Chrissy Sharp was appointed as the new CEO of Sydney Writers' Festival in 2018.[4]

Past international guests[edit]

Past guests have included:

Past local guests[edit]

Closing address[edit]

Organisational structure[edit]

The Festival is organised by the artistic director Michaela McGuire, with the support of the CEO Chrissy Sharp, who both report to the Board of Sydney Writers' Festival. In 2018 the directors of the Festival are[24]:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Convery, Stephanie (10 December 2016). "Michaela McGuire will be new artistic director of Sydney Writers' festival". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b Dessaix, Robert (24 January 1997). "After The Plague". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b Tom, Emma (11 January 1997). "The Best Young Australian Novelists 1997". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  4. ^ "McGuire appointed SWF artistic director". Books + Publishing. 10 November 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Alan Duff on Both Sides of the Moon". Book Talk on Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 22 May 1999. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Program Summaries and Transcripts". Books and Writing on Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 1999. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Events". Festival News 2002. University of Technology Sydney. 2002. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Program Summaries and Transcripts". Books and Writing on Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2002. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Highlights from Festival 2003". Festival 2003. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2003. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  10. ^ "Highlights from Festival 2004". Festival 2004. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2004. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ a b "Highlights from Festival 2005". Festival 2005. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2005. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Highlights from Festival 2006". Festival 2006. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2006. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Highlights from Festival 2007". Festival 2007. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  14. ^ a b "Highlights from Festival 2008". Festival 2008. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  15. ^ "Highlights from Festival 2009". Festival 2009. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2009. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  16. ^ a b "Highlights from Festival 2010". Festival 2010. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Festival Nights". Festival 2012. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  18. ^ a b c Haroldson, Peter. "Sydney Writers' Festival 2013". Sydney Life. Destination New South Wales. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  19. ^ a b "Sydney Writers Festival 20–28 May 2017" (PDF). Sydney Writers Festival. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  20. ^ "Program Summaries and Transcripts". Books and Writing on Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2001. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  21. ^ "Highlights". Festival 2012. Sydney Writers' Festival. 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  22. ^ Cite error: The named reference SWF2018 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  23. ^ "2017 Closing Address : Susan Faludi". Sydney Writers Festival. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  24. ^ "Board". Sydney Writers Festival. Retrieved 27 February 2018.

External links[edit]