About Penny Hanley

Writing is my passion. I agree with Winston Churchill that ‘the essential structure of the ordinary British sentence is a noble thing’. In my work I aim to maintain the nobility of my native tongue and to express its liveliness and grace in the face of the obfuscating jargon and deadening corporatized language that infects too much of contemporary life.

Born in Brisbane, I moved when a baby to my parents’ small (1,200 acre) sheep farm in a wild, remote part of Victoria’s East Gippsland. I spent the first half of my childhood there, doing correspondence school with my older siblings and reading at night by the light of our kerosene lamp.

A brief account of life there is in my chapter in Bush Nurses (Penguin, 2013). [URL]

After my BA (Hons) in English Literature from the Australian National University (1985) I had a successful 20-year free-lance editing career, wrote 85 book reviews for The Canberra Times and was a film critic for Canberra’s local ABC and 2XX radio stations.

My first novel, Full House, was published in 1993 by Simon & Schuster and 20 short stories were published after that in local magazines and in national and international journals.

My PhD in Communications from the University of Canberra (2009) enabled the leap from an editing career to a writing career.

Passions aside from writing include art, films, Argentine tango and travel. I worked as a deckhand on a yacht in the Mediterranean and Adriatic (1976), milked cows and worked on an archaeological dig in Israel (1979) and was a caterer’s assistant in London (1980). In Egypt I sailed down the Nile on the traditional vessel called a felucca (1985) and up the Straits of Malacca (1999).

Read an extract of Pen Hanley's chapter in Bush Nurses.
Browse Inspiring Australians—a history of fifty years of the Churchill Trust in Australia. Read a review.
Follow Pen Hanley's blog to keep in touch with her occasional pieces and read more about about her critical reviews, press articles and short stories.
Wild Women is a novel inspired by the life of Camille Claudet that forms part of Pen Hanley's doctoral study of women artists over historical time. Read her essay
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