Tim Winton

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Tim Winton
Tim Winton375-500e.jpg
BornTimothy John Winton
4 August 1960 (1960-08-04) (age 62)
Subiaco, Western Australia, Australia
GenreLiterature, children's, non-fiction, short story
Notable worksCloudstreet
Dirt Music
Notable awardsMiles Franklin
1984, 1992, 2002, 2009

Timothy John Winton (born 4 August 1960) is an Australian writer. He has written novels, children's books, non-fiction books, and short stories. In 1997, he was named a Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia, and has won the Miles Franklin Award four times.

Life and career[edit]

Timothy John Winton was born on 4 August 1960[1] in Subiaco, an inner western suburb of Perth, Western Australia. He grew up in the northern Perth suburb of Karrinyup,[2][3] before he moved with his family to the regional city of Albany at the age of 12.[4]

Whilst at the Western Australian Institute 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".[5] His second book, Shallows, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1984. Winton published Cloudstreet in 1991, which properly established his writing career.[5] He has continued to publish fiction, plays and non-fiction material.

Personal life[edit]

Winton has lived in Italy, France, Ireland and Greece,[6] but currently lives in Western Australia.[7] He 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 Winton was 21 and she was 20, and had three children together.[6] They live on the coast north of Perth.[7]

Winton’s younger brother, Andrew Winton, is a musician and a high school chaplain. His younger sister is Sharyn O'Neill, who in 2018 became the Public Sector Commissioner of Western Australia, after 12 years as Director General of the WA Education Department.[8]

As his fame has grown, Winton has guarded his and his family's privacy. He rarely speaks in public yet he is known as "an affable, plain-speaking man of unaffected intelligence and deep emotions."[9]

Reception and honours[edit]

In 1995, Winton's The Riders was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction, as was his 2002 book, Dirt Music. The former is currently being adapted for film, while Dirt Music (film) was released in 2019. 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 regularly appears in lists of Australia's best-loved novels.[10]

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]

The Tim Winton Young Writers Award, sponsored annually since 1993 by the City of Subiaco, recognizes young writers in the Perth metropolitan area.[13] It is open to short story writers of primary school and secondary school age. Three compilations have been published: Destination Unknown (2001)[14] Life Bytes (2002),[15] and Hatched: Celebrating Twenty Years of the Tim Winton Award for Young Writers (2013). The latter features the winning story from each year of the award from 1993 to 2012.[16] Winton is the patron of the competition.[17]

Winton has been named a Living Treasure by the National Trust[18] and awarded the Centenary Medal for service to literature and the community.[19] He is patron of the Tim Winton Award for Young Writers sponsored by the City of Subiaco, Western Australia.[20] Curtin University has named a lecture theatre in his honour.[21]

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."[22]

Dr Jules Smith for the British Council wrote about Winton,

"His books are boisterous and lyrical by turns, warm-hearted in their depictions of family life but with characters that often have to be in extremis in order to find themselves. They have a wonderful feeling for the strange beauty of Australia; are frequently flavoured with Aussie vernacular expressions, and a good deal of emotional directness. They question macho role models (his books are full of strong women and troubled men) and are prepared to risk their realist credibility with enigmatic, even visionary endings."[23]

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 involved in many of their campaigns, notably their work in raising awareness about sustainable seafood consumption.[24] He is a patron of the Stop the Toad Foundation and contributed to the whaling debate with an article on the Last Whale website.[25] 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.[26]

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."[27]

In 2016, species of fish from the Kimberley region was named after him.[28]

In March 2017 Winton was named patron of the newly established Native Australian Animals Trust.[29] He has always featured the environment and the Australian landscape in his writings. The trust was established to help research and teaching about native animals and their environment. Associate Professor Tim Dempster, School of Biosciences is quoted as saying, "Australia has a unique and charismatic animal fauna, but our state of knowledge about it is poor. Indeed species can go extinct before we even know of their existence. We have much to learn from our fauna, and a pressing need to do so."[30]



Short fiction[edit]

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
Abbreviation 2003 "Abbreviation"/"Ten viet tat", Truyen ngan Uc/Australian Short Stories, Rose Moxham (ed), Trinh Lu (translator), Hoi Nhaa Van, 2005
Aquifer 2000 Winton, Tim (Summer 2000). "Aquifer". Granta. 70: 39–52. The Beacon Best of 2001, Junot Diaz (ed), Beacon Press, 2001
Big world 2004 Journeys: Modern Australian Short Stories, Barry Oakley (ed), Five Mile Press, 2007
Cockleshell 2004 "Cockleshell", Harvard Review, No. 27, Christina Thompson (ed), 2004
Small mercies 2006 Novella


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

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: Australian Landscapes (1999) – text by Tim Winton and photographs by Richard Woldendorp
  • "How the Reef was Won", The Bulletin, vol. 121 no. 6384, 5 August 2003
  • "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
  • 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 memoir) — also available as 7-CD pack, read by Winton, pub. ABC/Bolinda



  • A film based on That Eye the Sky, directed by John Ruane, was released in 1994[42]
  • A film based on In The Winter Dark directed by James Bogle was released in 1998[43]
  • Two television series based on the Lockie Leonard books. The first series screened in 2007, the second in 2010.[44]
  • A film adaptation of short story 'The Water Was Dark and Went Forever Down', 2009.[45]
  • A TV miniseries based on Cloudstreet was aired in 2011.[46]
  • A film based on The Turning was released in September 2013. It was nominated for and won many awards.[47]
  • A film adaptation of The Riders was in development but there have been serious problems.[48]
  • An opera adaptation of The Riders Victorian Opera/Malthouse Theatre 2014[49]
  • An opera adaptation of Cloudstreet State Opera of South Australia. Her Majesty's Theatre, Adelaide, premiered 12 and 13 May 2016.[50]
  • A film adaptation of the short story 'Secrets' directed by Michael Rowe is in development.
  • A film adaptation of Breath was released in September 2017.[51]
  • A film adaptation of Dirt Music, directed by Gregor Jordan, was released in October 2020.[52]
  • A film adaptation of Blueback is scheduled for release on 1st January 2023.[53]

Critical studies and reviews of Winton's work[edit]

  • The Fiction of Tim Winton: Earthed and Sacred, Lyn McCredden, Sydney University Press, 2017
  • 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[56]


Scission and Other Stories

  • 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]

Jesse (picture book)

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


Related to Cloudstreet[edit]

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]
  • 1998 Winner YABBA Awards: Fiction for Younger Readers[17]

The Riders


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[57]
  • 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[55]
  • 2014 shortlisted Voss Literary Prize[55]
  • 2014 winner Western Australian Premier's Book Awards – People's Choice Award[55]
  • 2014 shortlisted Western Australian Premier's Book Awards – Fiction[55]
  • 2014 shortlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) – Australian Literary Fiction Book of the Year[55]
  • 2014 shortlisted Miles Franklin Literary Award[55]
  • 2014 shortlisted Indie Awards – Fiction[55]
  • 2014 shortlisted Victorian Premier's Literary Awards – Fiction[55]

Island Home : A Landscape Memoir

The Boy Behind the Curtain

  • 2017 longlisted Indie Awards – Nonfiction[55]

The Shepherd's Hut


  1. ^ "Tim Winton". Britannica.
  2. ^ "Births". The West Australian. 5 August 1960. p. 44.
  3. ^ "Tim Winton (Author profile), Jenny Darling & Associates". Archived from the original on 6 December 2007. Retrieved 10 November 2007.
  4. ^ Steger, Jason (2008) "It's a risky business", The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books: p. 29
  5. ^ a b Steger, Jason (2008) "Its a risky business" in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books p. 28
  6. ^ a b "Waiting for the mew wave - Interview 28 June 2008". The Guardian. 27 June 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  7. ^ a b "The Boy Behind the Curtain - From guns to words 15 October 2016". NZ Herald. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Sharyn O'Neill". Government of Western Australia. Retrieved 31 December 2022.
  9. ^ "Tim Winton : Into the Blue: Murray Waldren (first published in The Weekend Australian.)". Literary Liaisons. Retrieved 3 February 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. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. 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 Living Treasures list, National Trust website Archived 10 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ a b "Winton, Tim Centenary Medal". Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  20. ^ Tim Winton Award Archived 6 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Curtin honours graduate Tim Winton with lecture theatre tribute - News and Events | Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia". 2 November 2009.
  22. ^ {{cited by Steger, Jason (2008) "It's a risky business" in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books Awards Hall of Fame|website=State Library of Western Australia|access-date=23 January 2017}}
  23. ^ "Critical Perspective Dr Jules Smith 2003". Literature British Council. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  24. ^ AMCS Sustainable Seafood Guide Archived 20 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "I like men", The Last Whale blog, November 2007
  26. ^ "For the love of sharks", Australian Geographic, 23 July 2010
  27. ^ cited by Steger, Jason (2008) "It's a risky business" in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25–27 April 2008, Books p. 28
  28. ^ "'A great honour': New fish species named after author Tim Winton". ABC News. 4 January 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  29. ^ "Native Australian Animals Trust". University of Melbourne. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Native Australian Animals Trust". University of Melbourne. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  31. ^ Short stories unless otherwise noted.
  32. ^ "That Eye, The Sky". Aussie Theatre. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  33. ^ "Cloudstreet's Adaptations". Austlit. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  34. ^ "AusStage". AusStage. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  35. ^ "Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo". Australian Plays. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  36. ^ "Lockie Leonard, Scumbuster". AusStage. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  37. ^ "The Bugalugs Bum Thief". Sydney Morning Herald 6 April 2009. 6 April 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  38. ^ "The Bugalugs Bum Thief (National Tours)". monkey baa theatre company. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  39. ^ "The Deep First Performance 2001". Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  40. ^ "Blueback". Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  41. ^ "The Turning Perth Theatre Company". Australian Stage. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  42. ^ "That Eye, the Sky (1994)". Australian Screen. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  43. ^ "In the Winter Dark". IMDb. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  44. ^ "Lockie Leonard". IMDb. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  45. ^ "The Water Was Dark and It Went Forever". IMDb. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  46. ^ "Cloudstreet". IMDb. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  47. ^ "The Turning". IMDb. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  48. ^ "The Riders". IMDb. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  49. ^ "The Riders Review (Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne) 25 September 2014". Daily Review. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  50. ^ "Review: Cloudstreet (State Opera of South Australia)". Limelight Magazine. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  51. ^ "Elizabeth Debicki, Richard Roxburgh join cast of Simon Baker's film Breath 12 April 2016". The Sydney Morning Herald. 11 April 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  52. ^ "Dirt Music trailer: Director Gregor Jordan on Tim Winton's book, casting non-Australians 21 May 2020". News.com.au. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  53. ^ megfunston (7 July 2022). "Blueback: Tim Winton film adaptation – trailer". ScreenHub Australia. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  54. ^ "Under the Influence". Workers Online. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  55. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Personal Awards for Works". Austlit. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  56. ^ "Fully formed: 30 years of The Australian/Vogel Literary Award 23 January 2011". The Australian. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  57. ^ a b c d "Miles Franklin Literary Award – Every Winner Since 1957". Better Reading. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  58. ^ "AWGIE Stage Award". Australian Plays Organization. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  59. ^ a b "Past Nominees and Winners 2002". Helpmann Awards. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  60. ^ "Shortlist 1995". Man Booker Prize. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  61. ^ "Shortlist 2002". Man Booker Prize. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  62. ^ "Winton wins 2019 Voss Literary Prize for 'The Shepherd's Hut'". Books+Publishing. 10 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  63. ^ Perkins, Cathy (Summer 2019). "Excellence in Literature and History". SL Magazine. 12 (4): 52–55.

External links[edit]

External video
video icon Tim Winton laments the power of toxic masculinity on young men, Matter Of Fact With Stan Grant, ABC News