Tim Winton

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Tim Winton
Born 4 August 1960 (1960-08-04) (age 56)
Karrinyup, Western Australia
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Australian
Period 1982–present
Genre Literature, children 's literature, non-fiction, short story
Notable works Cloudstreet,
Dirt Music,
Notable awards Miles Franklin
1984, 1992, 2002, 2009

Tim (Timothy John) Winton (born 4 August 1960) is multi-award winning Australian writer of novels, children's books, non-fiction books and short story writer.


Tim 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[6] but currently lives in Western Australia. Winton met his wife Denise when they were children at school. When he was 18 and recovering from a car accident they reconnected as she was a student nurse. They married when he was 21 and she was 20 and have three children.[6]

His younger brother, Andrew Winton, is a musician and a high school chaplain. His younger sister is Sharyn O'Neill in 2007 assumed the position of Director General of the WA Education Department.[7]

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".[8] 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.[8] He has continued to publish fiction, plays and non-fintion material.

The National Library of Australia holds the Papers of Tim Winton (unpublished 1980-1996) , biographical cuttings and programs and related material collected by the National Library of Australia.[9]


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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] It is open to primary school and secondary school-aged short story writers. Three compilations have been published, Destination Unknown (2001)[14] and Life Bytes (2002).[15] and Hatched: Celebrating twenty years of the Tim Winton Award for Young Writers (2013) features the overall winning story from each year of the award from 1993 to 2012.[16] Winton is the patron of the competition.[17]

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."[18] 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".[18]

"Winton is widely recognised for his depiction of Australians and the land where they live. A keen environmentalist, Winton's love of this land is reflected in the way he uses landscapes and places for inspiration. Many of his stories are set in Western Australia."[19]

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.[20] He is a patron of the Stop the Toad Foundation and contributed to the whaling debate with an article on the Last Whale website.[21] 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.[22]

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."[23]

In 2016, Winton had a species of fish from the Kimberley region named after him.[24]



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)
  • Tide-Lands - Idris Murphy (2015) text by Tim Winton and art by Idris Murphy
  • The Boy Behind the Curtain (2016)



  • 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. It was nominated for and won many awards,[25]
  • A film adaptation of The Riders is in development.
  • An opera adaptation of The Riders is in development.
  • An opera adaptation of Cloudstreet State Opera of South Australia. Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, premiered May 12 and 13 2015.
  • A film adaptation of the short story ‘Secrets’ directed by Michael Rowe is in development.
  • A film adaptation of Shallows was released 2016
  • A film adaptation of Breath filming underway April 2016

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]

Full list of awards and nominations:

An Open Swimmer

  • 1981 Australian Vogel National Literary Award [27]



  • 1985 Western Australian Council Literary Award [17]
  • 1985 Joint Winner Western Australian Premier's Book Award - Fiction[17]

Minimum of Two and Other Stories

  • 1988 Winner Western Australian Premier's Book Award - Fiction[17]


  • 1990 Winner Western Australian Premier's Book Award: Children's Book[17]


Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo

  • 1991 Joint winner Western Australian Premier's Book Award: Children's Book[17]
  • 1993 American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults Award[17]
  • 1996 Winner YABBA Awards: Fiction for Older Readers[17]

Lockie Leonard, Scumbuster

The Bugalugs Bum Thief

  • 1994 Winner CROW Award (Children Reading Outstanding Writers): Focus list (Years 3-5)[17]
  • 1998Winner YABBA Awards: Fiction for Younger Readers[17]

The Riders


  • 1998 Bolinda Audio Book Awards[17]
  • 1998 Wilderness Society Environment Award[17]
  • 1999 WAYRBA Hoffman Award for Young Readers,[17]

Lockie Leonard, Legend

  • 1998 Family Award for Children's Literature,[17]

Dirt Music

The Turning


  • 2008 Age Book of the Year, Fiction – winner[17]
  • 2008 Indie Awards — Fiction[17]
  • 2009 Miles Franklin Award [28]
  • 2009 Shortlisted Commonwealth Writers' Prize, South East Asia and the South Pacific Region[17]
  • 2009 Shortlisted New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Christina Stead Prize[17]


  • 2014 shortlisted Queensland Literary Awards — Fiction Book Award [27]
  • 2014 shortlisted Voss Literary Prize[27]
  • 2014 winner Western Australian Premier's Book Awards — People's Choice Award[27]
  • 2014 shortlisted Western Australian Premier's Book Awards — Fiction[27]
  • 2014 shortlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) — Australian Literary Fiction Book of the Year[27]
  • 2014 shortlisted Miles Franklin Literary Award[27]
  • 2014 shortlisted Indie Awards — Fiction[27]
  • 2014 shortlisted Victorian Premier's Literary Awards — Fiction[27]

Island Home : A Landscape Memoir

The Boy Behind the Curtain

  • 2017 longlisted Indie Awards — Nonfiction[27]

External links[edit]


  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. ^ a b Living Treasures list, National Trust website
  4. ^ a b "Winton, Tim Centenary Medal". Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Tim Winton Award
  6. ^ a b "Waiting for the mew wave - Interview 28 June 2008". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  7. ^ "Sharyn O'Neill - Director General". Department of Education Western Australia. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  8. ^ a b Steger, Jason (2008) "It's a risky business" in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books p. 28
  9. ^ "Diaries, letters, archives [Tim Winton]". Trove National Library of Asutralia. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  10. ^ Your Favourite Australian Book poll, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  11. ^ Tim Winton (Author profile), Jenny Darling & Associates
  12. ^ "Dirt Music: Music For A Novel By Tim Winton". Discogs. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  13. ^ "Tim Winton Award for Young Writers". City of Subiaco. Retrieved 29 February 2012. 
  14. ^ "Destination unknown / edited by Alwyn Evans ; foreword Tim Winton.". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Life bytes / edited by Alwyn Evans.". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "Tim Winton Award for Young Writers - Publications 2016". City of Subiaco. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai "Tim Winton Author Bio". Booktopia. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  18. ^ a b cited by Steger, Jason (2008) "It's a risky business" in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books p. 29
  19. ^ "Premiers Book Awards Hall of Fame". State Library of Western Australia. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  20. ^ AMCS Sustainable Seafood Guide
  21. ^ "I like men", The Last Whale blog, November 2007
  22. ^ For the love of sharks, Australian Geographic, 23 July 2010
  23. ^ cited by Steger, Jason (2008) "It's a risky business" in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books p. 28
  24. ^ "'A great honour': New fish species named after author Tim Winton". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-01-04. 
  25. ^ "The Turning Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  26. ^ "Under the Influence". Workers Online. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Personal Awards Awards for Works". Austlit. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
  28. ^ a b c d "Miles Franklin Literary Award – Every Winner Since 1957". Better Reading. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  29. ^ "AWGIE Stage Award". Australian Plays Organization. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  30. ^ "Best Direction of a Play 2002". Helpmann Awards. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  31. ^ "Shortlist 1995". Man Booker Prize. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  32. ^ "Shortlist 2002". Man Booker Prize. Retrieved 16 January 2017.