Tim Winton

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Tim Winton
Born 4 August 1960 (1960-08-04) (age 56)
Karrinyup, Western Australia
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Australian
Genre Literature, children 's literature, non-fiction, short story

Timothy John "Tim" Winton (born 4 August 1960) is an Australian novelist and short story writer.


Timothy Winton was born in Karrinyup, Western Australia,[1] but moved at age of 12 to the regional city of Albany.[2]

Winton has been named a Living Treasure by the National Trust[3] and awarded the Centenary Medal for service to literature and the community.[4] He is patron of the Tim Winton Award for Young Writers sponsored by the City of Subiaco, Western Australia.[5]

He has lived in Italy, France, Ireland and Greece but currently lives in Fremantle, near Perth, with his wife and three children.[citation needed]

His younger brother, Andrew Winton, is a musician and high school chaplain. His younger sister is Sharyn O'Neill, the current Director General of the WA Education Department.[citation needed]

Literary career[edit]

Whilst at Curtin University of Technology, Winton wrote his first novel, An Open Swimmer, which won The Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1981, launching his writing career. He has stated that he wrote "the best part of three books while at university".[6] His second book, Shallows, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1984. It wasn't until Cloudstreet was published in 1991, however, that his writing career was properly established.[6] His novel, Breath, was published in 2008. His latest novel is Eyrie, published in 2013.


In 1995, Winton’s The Riders was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, as later was his 2002 book, Dirt Music. Both are currently being adapted for film. He has won many other prizes, including the Miles Franklin Award a record four times: for Shallows (1984), Cloudstreet (1992), Dirt Music (2002) and Breath (2009). Cloudstreet is arguably his best-known work, regularly appearing in lists of Australia’s best-loved novels.[7]

He is now one of Australia's most esteemed novelists, writing for both adults and children. All his books are still in print and have been published in eighteen different languages. His work has also been successfully adapted for stage, screen and radio.[8] On the publication of his novel, Dirt Music, he collaborated with broadcaster, Lucky Oceans, to produce a compilation CD, Dirt Music – Music for a Novel.

Young writers award[edit]

The Tim Winton Young Writers Award, sponsored annually by the City of Subiaco, offers children across the Perth metropolitan area the opportunity to develop their writing skills.[9] It is open to primary school and secondary school-aged short story writers. Two compilations have been published, Destination Unknown (2001) and Life Bytes (2002). Winton is the patron of the competition.

Style and themes[edit]

Winton draws his prime inspiration from landscape and place, mostly coastal Western Australia. He has said "The place comes first. If the place isn't interesting to me then I can't feel it. I can't feel any people in it. I can't feel what the people are on about or likely to get up to."[10] His themes often centre on an issue which is described by the character Gail in The Turning when she says that "every vivid experience comes from your adolescence".[10]

Winton revisits place and, occasionally, characters from one book to another. Queenie Cookson, for example, is a character in Breath who also appears in Shallows, Minimum of Two and in two of the Lockie Leonard books.

Environmental advocacy[edit]

Winton is actively involved in the Australian environmental movement. He is a patron of the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and is passionately involved in many of their campaigns, notably their work in raising awareness about sustainable seafood consumption.[11] He is a patron of the Stop the Toad Foundation and contributed to the whaling debate with an article on the Last Whale website.[12] He is also a prominent advocate of the Save Moreton Bay organisation, the Environment Defender’s Office, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and the Marine Conservation Society, with which he is campaigning against shark finning.[13]

In 2003, Winton was awarded the inaugural Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Medal in recognition for his work in the campaign to save the Ningaloo Reef.

Winton keeps away from the public eye, unless promoting a new book or supporting an environmental issue. He told reviewer Jason Steger "Occasionally they wheel me out for green advocacy stuff but that's the only kind of stuff I put my head up for."[14]

In 2016, Winton had a species of fish from the Kimberley region named after him.[15]



Short story collections[edit]


  • Small Mercies (2006)


  • Rising Water (2011)
  • Signs of Life (2012)
  • Shrine (2013)

In collections of short stories and essays[edit]

Winton’s short stories have been published in numerous publications and widely anthologised:

  • "Big World", Journeys: Modern Australian Short Stories, Barry Oakley (ed), Five Mile Press, 2007
  • "Abbreviation"/"Ten viet tat", Truyen ngan Uc/Australian Short Stories, Rose Moxham (ed), Trinh Lu (translator), Hoi Nhaa Van, 2005
  • "Cockleshell", Harvard Review, No. 27, Christina Thompson (ed), 2004
  • "Landing", A Place on Earth: An Anthology of Nature Writing from Australia and North America, Mark Tredinnick (ed), University of Nebraska Press and University of New South Wales Press, 2003
  • "How the Reef was Won", The Bulletin, vol. 121 no. 6384, 5 August 2003
  • "Aquifer", The Beacon Best of 2001, Junot Diaz (ed), Beacon Press, 2001

Children's books[edit]


  • Land's Edge (1993) – with Trish Ainslie and Roger Garwood
  • Local Colour: Travels in the Other Australia (1994), republished in the U.S. as Australian Colors: Images of the Outback (1998) – photography and text by Bill Bachman, additional text by Tim Winton
  • Down to Earth (1999) – text by Tim Winton and photographs by Richard Woldendorp
  • Smalltown (2009) – text by Tim Winton and photographs by Martin Mischkulnig
  • Island Home (2015)



  • A film based on That Eye the Sky, directed by John Ruane, was released in 1994
  • A film based on In The Winter Dark directed by James Bogle was released in 1998
  • Two television series based on the Lockie Leonard books. The first series screened in 2007, the second in 2010.
  • A film adaptation of short story 'The Water Was Dark and Went Forever Down', 2009.
  • A TV miniseries based on Cloudstreet was aired in 2011.
  • A film based on The Turning was released in September 2013.
  • A film adaptation of The Riders is in development.
  • An opera adaptation of The Riders is in development.
  • An opera adaptation of Cloudstreet is in development.
  • A film adaptation of the short story ‘Secrets’ directed by Michael Rowe is in development.
  • A film adaptation of Shallows is in development
  • A film adaptation of Breath is in development

Critical works about Winton[edit]

  • Tim Winton: Critical Essays, Lyn McCredden and Nathanael O'Reilly (eds), University of Western Australia Publishing, 2014
  • Mind the Country: Tim Winton’s fiction, Salhia Ben-Messahel, University of Western Australia Press, 2006
  • Tim Winton: the writer and his work, Michael McGirr, Macmillan Education, 1999
  • Tim Winton: a celebration, Hilary McPhee (ed), National Library of Australia, (1999)
  • Reading Tim Winton, Richard Rossiter and Lyn Jacobs (eds), Angus & Robertson, (1993)

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Four time Miles Franklin Award winner, 1984, 1992, 2002, 2009
  • Two time Booker Prize nominee
  • Winton was included in the Bulletin's "100 Most Influential Australians" list in 2006

Full list of awards and nominations:

  • 1981 Australian Vogel National Literary Award An Open Swimmer
  • 1984 Miles Franklin Award, Shallows
  • 1985 Western Australian Council Literary Award, Scission
  • 1990 Western Australian Premier's Book Award for Children's Fiction, Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo
  • 1991 Miles Franklin Award, Cloudstreet
  • 1991 NBC Banjo Award for Fiction, Cloudstreet
  • 1991 West Australian Fiction Award, Cloudstreet
  • 1992 Deo Gloria Award, Cloudstreet
  • 1993 American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults Award, Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo
  • 1993 Wilderness Society Environment Award, Lockie Leonard, Scumbuster
  • 1995 Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist) The Riders
  • 1995 Commonwealth Writers Prize (South East Asia and South Pacific Region, Best Book), The Riders
  • 1998 Bolinda Audio Book Awards, Blueback
  • 1998 Family Award for Children's Literature, Lockie Leonard, Legend
  • 1998 Wilderness Society Environment Award, Blueback
  • 1999 WAYRBA Hoffman Award for Young Readers, Blueback
  • 2001 Western Australian Premier's Book Award Premier's Prize, Dirt Music
  • 2001 Good Reading Award, 2001, Dirt Music
  • 2002 Australian Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award, Dirt Music
  • 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist), Dirt Music
  • 2002 Miles Franklin Award, Dirt Music
  • 2002 New South Wales Premier's Literary Award, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, Dirt Music
  • 2002 Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, Fiction, 2002 – shortlist, Dirt Music
  • 2003 Australian Society of Authors Medal
  • 2004 Colin Roderick Award, 2004 – joint winner, The Turning
  • 2005 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, Best Fiction Book, The Turning
  • 2005 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction, The Turning
  • 2005 Inaugural Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award – shortlisted, The Turning
  • 2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize, South East Asia and South Pacific Region, Best Book – commended, The Turning
  • 2008 Age Book of the Year, Fiction – winner, Breath
  • 2009 Miles Franklin Award, Breath


  1. ^ "Tim Winton (Author profile), Jenny Darling & Associates". Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  2. ^ Steger, Jason (2008) "It's a risky business" in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books p. 29
  3. ^ Living Treasures list, National Trust website
  4. ^ Australian Government Centenary Medal website
  5. ^ Tim Winton Award
  6. ^ a b Steger, Jason (2008) "It's a risky business" in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books p. 28
  7. ^ Your Favourite Australian Book poll, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  8. ^ Tim Winton (Author profile), Jenny Darling & Associates
  9. ^ "Tim Winton Award for Young Writers". City of Subiaco. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  10. ^ a b cited by Steger, Jason (2008) "It's a risky business" in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books p. 29
  11. ^ AMCS Sustainable Seafood Guide
  12. ^ "I like men", The Last Whale blog, November 2007
  13. ^ For the love of sharks, Australian Geographic, 23 July 2010
  14. ^ cited by Steger, Jason (2008) "It's a risky business" in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books p. 28
  15. ^ "'A great honour': New fish species named after author Tim Winton". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 

Further reading[edit]

Tim Winton: Critical Essays. edited by Lyn McCredden and Nathanael O'Reilly. UWA Publishing 2014.

External links[edit]