Members’ Biographies

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John Biggs, a fifth generation Tasmanian, spent his professional life outside Tasmania, retiring early from the University of Hong in order to write. He has published four novels with a fifth on the way, several short stories including an anthology, a social history of Tasmania and most recently, an academic memoir in which he relates the more bizarre of his experiences in several universities in different countries.  More at www.johnbiggs.com.au

Short Story –  A Good Christian Girl

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Jacqueline Cooke (dec.) was a founding member of The Eight Pens Literary Group, Southern Tasmanian Women Writers and Poets. Her work has been published in several anthologies, in literary journals, and her short stories have been read on the BBC and the ABC. She was a prize-winner in local, interstate and international competitions, for both her short stories and her poetry.

Poem – Tintagel Cove Cornwell

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Mike Cooper was born in Hobart, and lives there now. He taught at schools in Victoria and in Papua, and worked  in Tasmania as a teacher, a nurseryman, and in land rehabilitation. After his retirement he began writing fiction. He has published two volumes of poems ; paintings by his wife Jocelyn are featured in both volumes.

Poems – Lullaby / The Birdwatcher’s Guide

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Geoff Dean (1928-2011) began writing in the early 1960s. His work was published in a wide variety of magazines in Australia and overseas and his many literary prizes included the Victorian Government FAW Short Story Award and the Arafura Literary Award. He also wrote for radio and film and published eight short story collections.

Roaring Forties Press Tribute to Geoff Dean
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Berenice Eastman has been involved in research on Tasmanian author Nan Chauncy for many years. Her first draft of ‘Nan Chauncy, a Writer’s Life’ won for her the Walter Stone Award for Biography in 1984. Born and educated in Sydney she currently lives in Tasmania where she has completed a Masters degree on an unpublished text by Nan Chauncy.

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Philomena Essex was born in England but migrated to Australia with her husband and two sons in 1974. She now has a third son who was born in Adleaside. She was a late bloomer where her writing was concerned but has since achieved some successes. She has had several poems and a short story published in Positive Words Magazine, three poems published in the inaugural edition of Prospect Magazine and has won several places and commendations in national competitions; the most recent being First Prize winner of the poetry section of Scribblers Inc. Mandura-Murray National Literary Competition 2011. Her winning poem was included in their anthology. She is a member of several writers’ groups including Mersey Writers’ Group which she helped to found in her home city of Devonport, Tasmania.

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Solveig Hamilton nee Foss (1940-2015) was born in England, schooled largely in Ireland (English father and Irish mother, both actors) and came to Australia as a Ten-Pound Pom in 1961. Solveig read English at the University of Sydney and Medicine at the University of NSW.  She started writing travel articles for the life-style section of a medical magazine, and went on to having short stories published in various magazines.  Solveig started a branch of FAW Victoria in Darwin in the early 1970s, until blown out of that city by Cyclone Tracey.  In 2012 and 2013 Solveig had two collections of short stories published, one collection, Night Watch, being loosely stories with a medical link, and the other, Poppy Day, more general.  Both were published by Ginninderra Press.  Like most writers, Solveig had unpublished novels in her bottom drawer.  She lived and worked in Thailand, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Russia, and some of her stories have backgrounds in these countries.

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Anne Kellas is a Hobart-based writer who has lived in, and had her poetry published in, South Africa, Britain, the USA and Australia. Her first collection, Poems from Mt Moono, 89, deals with migration from apartheid South Africa. Isolated States came out shortly after 9/11. Anne is also a publisher (Roaring Forties Press, The Write Stuff) and blogger, North of the Latte Line.

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Anne Layton-Bennett was born in England, and moved to Australia in 1977, settling first in Perth, Western Australia before moving to Tasmania with her partner in 1988. While she has always been an inveterate letter writer, she only got serious about writing professionally in 1994, after the sale of the florist business she and her partner owned. Some early success in writing competitions encouraged her to keep going, but the yellow brick road to publishing success has generally followed the non-fiction route.

Over the years Anne has been published in a number of newspapers and magazines both in Australia and overseas. She co-edited: An Inspired Pursuit: 40 years of writing by women in northern Tasmania, published by Karuda Press in December 2002, (and has several essays in An Inspired Pursuit: Volume 2, published in 2012). She currently divides her days between a job in a school library with contributing science-based articles for specialist monthly magazine The Veterinarian. She has also been known to pen the occasional poem – some of which have been published. She also still writes letters.

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Kathryn Lomer is a novelist and poet living in Hobart.  She is a regular contributor to the Poets’ Union magazine, Five bells.  Kathryn won the 2003/2004 Anne Elder award, and is a previous winner of the Gwen Harwood, Melbourne Poets’ Union, Josephine Ulrick and ANUTECH poetry prizes.

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Andrea McMahon’s stories and poems have been published in literary journals and anthologies. Her first short story collection, Skin Hunger, was published by Ginninderra Press in 2008 with the assistance of a grant from Arts Tasmania. Andrea lives in Hobart with two of her three children, and for most of the past twenty years has worked as a cataloguer with the State Library of Tasmania. She currently works for LINC Tasmania coordinating adult and family literacy programs. More of Andrea’s writing can be found at: http://andreaswriting.wordpress.com/

Short story – Pink Ribbon

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Peter Macrow writes haiku and longer poems, book reviews and fiction, and his work has been published in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United States, Canada, Scotland, Belgium, Bulgaria and England.  Since December 2000, when his first published poem appeared in Famous Reporter, Peter has had over 200 poems published.  He edited issues 8 & 9 of Republic Readings.  He is the founding editor of the poetry chapbook series, Blue Giraffe.

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Robyn Mathison was born in Narrandera, NSW in 1938, and has lived in Hobart since 1975.  She writes poetry, stories and reviews and has been published in journals and anthologies in Australia, UK and Japan.  She has been FAW secretary for over twenty years, and has co-edited three anthologies of Tasmanian writing.

Poem – Fruit-bowl Moments

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Anne Morgan is the author of The Glow Worm Cave (Aboriginal Studies Press, 1999), The Crown and Gown (Cambridge University Press, 2002), Warts ‘n’ All (Koala Books, 2003), and Echoes from the Firetrails (FAW-WA, 2004).  She has won the Banjo Paterson Poetry Award, the Colin and Norma Knight Memorial Award, the Colin Knight Memorial Award (twice), the Hal Moore Poetry Award and the SAE Strõm Maritime Short Story Award.

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Tony Mount grew up in the UK. His university degrees were obtained in Australia (BSc. Adelaide; BFor. Canberra; MSc. Tasmania). During his working life as a forest fire ecologist he began writing light verse and short stories, as well as academic papers. With his wife, Sue, he is an active orienteer: they have three sons and nine grandchildren.

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Louise Oxley’s poetry is widely published in Australia and a selection of her work appeared in the 2000 anthology, Moorilla Mosaic.  Louise received a Varuna Fellowship in 2000 and again in 2004.  Louise Oxley’s first collection, Compound Eye, (Five Islands Press, New Poets Series n.9) was short-listed for the Anne Elder award.

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Jim Paterson (1922-2012) published two books – a book of verse and A King Island Settler’s Tale. Both these reflect his experiences as a woolclasser, wheat farmer, woolbuyer, station manager, grazier and his interest in agripolitics and the history of Soldier Settlement on King Island. He has been a book reviewer and tutor with Adult Education in Hobart.

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Marilyn QuirkMarilyn Quirk lives with her husband on the North West Coast of Tasmania overlooking Bass Strait and worked for TAFE (Tas) for many years in Vocational Education and Training.   Her latest book, Echoes from the Wild West Coast of Tasmania (2012), relates the varied experiences of FG Copeland; lost, bushfires, and floods! He was the Anglican minister from 1894-1901 during the wild mining days of the West Coast. Tasmania – an island far away (2010) relates stories about nine nationalities and includes the Tasmanian life of a convict who settled in Launceston.  Her first book Echoes on the Mountain (2006) relates ten migrant stories of men and women who arrived in the Central Highlands post-war. This was assisted by an Arts Grant and help from Hydro Tasmania. The book was reprinted the following year.

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Lyn Reeves’ poetry, stories and haiku have been published widely in journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas.  She was runner-up in the 1999 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize and has been the recipient of Arts Tasmania and Australia Council writers’ grants, a Varuna Fellowship and writers’ residencies in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.  She co-ordinated the Moorilla Museum series of readings and is haiku editor of Famous Reporter.  She is the Publisher at Pardalote Press.

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Megan Schaffner has had poems and short stories published in literary journals including Westerly, Fine Line and Social Alternatives, and has co-edited two anthologies.  She is one of four women whose poems and articles are collected in Grim Works (2000).  In retirement, Megan runs poetry groups that meet to enjoy poetry across a range of countries and centuries, and edits manuscripts for friends.

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Edith Speers was born in Canada, and studied biochemistry before moving to Australia in 1974.  She’s a poet, teacher, editor and publisher, and manages Esperance Press, located in Dover, Tasmania.  She co-edited the anthology A Writer’s Tasmania (Esperance Press, 2000) which showcases stories about Tasmania by Tasmanians writing about their personal experiences on the ‘remote and beautiful island’.

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LS PhotoLeigh Swinbourne has written for the theatre as well as fiction and non-fiction work. Since moving to Hobart in 2001 he has had plays produced and/or read by Old Nick, Hobart Repertory, The Australian Script Centre and The Tasmanian Theatre Company. His play ‘The Mark of Cain’ was shortlisted for the 2005 Patrick White Playwrights’ Award.

Leigh has had short stories and articles published in a variety of journals and anthologies, and an unpublished novel manuscript shortlisted for the 2006 Varuna Award. In 2011 he published ‘The Shark and Other Stories’ through Ginninderra Press. In 2013 he was shortlisted for the University of Tasmania Prize for an unpublished manuscript: ‘Shadow in the Forest’. His second collection of stories, ‘Away’, was published by Ginninderra Press in 2014 with the assistance of a grant from Arts Tasmania. More about Leigh’s writing can be found at leighswinbourne.com.au

Short story – Away

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Kate Tongs grew up in country Tasmania and now lives just out of Hobart. Her poems have been published locally, inter-state and in New Zealand, in The Poet’s Republic, Ripples, Word Weavers, The Mozzie, Valley Micropress, and Poetry D’Amour 2014. In 2013 she published a collection of works, along with Tony Brennan, Jan Colville and Lorraine Haig, called The Persistence of Song. In 2015 she published her first solo poetry work: Falling into Birdsong. Kate has had many varied life experiences from childhood on a family farm, living in a girls’ private boarding house, travel overland from London to Kathmandu to a brief period of life in Sydney. She draws on her experience for inspiration.

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Alan WilliamsAlan C. Williams is a retired Australian Science Teacher and U.K. Financial Services Manager, now in France with his wife and cats to keep him sane. Besides winning a number of competitions in his three years of published writing, he’s sold over thirty adult and children’s stories to Australia, Ireland, Canada and the U.K. In fact, most of his sales have been to Australia. For some bizarre reason they understand the innate lack of culture and sophistication that his writing possesses; stories published by That’s Life include a pastel blue kangaroo, telepathic green Tasmanian tigers, an amnesiac Santa Claus and time-displacement adventures. One day Alan aspires to write a `normal` story. He’s not holding his breath.

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Karen Laura-Lee Wilson was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and was raised and educated in Brisbane. Since 1974 she has lived in Tasmania with her family. She worked as a librarian at the University of Tasmania and from 1980 was employed in Tasmanian Education Department libraries until her retirement. Her debut memoir Gaining a Sense of Self was published by Sid Harta in 2010. Her interests include involvement with grandchildren, painting, family research, line dancing, writing and keeping fit. Karen’s website is: http://www.authorsden.com/karenllwilson

Story – Our Guesthouse

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Liz Winfield’s first poetry collection Too Much Happens, Cornford Press, 2003, was assisted by an Arts Tasmania grant. She has coordinated the Republic Readings from their inception in 1999 and edits chapbooks and a poetry broadsheet The Poets’ Republic, for Walleah Press; and is a past president of FAW Tasmania.