Australia is home to some amazing talent. Our open-minded culture and our anti-authoritarian attitude have bred some of the most powerful female authors to ever grace a typewriter.
This is a list of some of the best female Australian authors. These female writers weave beautiful and engaging books, far from your stereotypical romance and fantasy novels. While none of these women have ever been considered truly classic authors, their timeless stories told from a uniquely Australian perspective have garnered international acclaim.
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7. Celeste Barber
Date of Birth: May 6, 1982
Starting off our list is probably the most famous Australian author among millennials. Often hailed as the ‘Funniest Lady on Instagram’, she is best known for being an actress and comedian, but she recently wrote a book which came out earlier this year, in May.
Challenge Accepted!: 253 Steps to Becoming an Anti-It Girl is an autobiographical account of her own life experiences. She tells stories from early life; when she was diagnosed with ADD, when she was bullied at school, and even when she underwent heart surgery. She’s a woman who has repeatedly faced adversity, yet has become stronger as a result.
Her book is a must-read for any young woman, especially for those who are feeling boxed in and unable to meet societal expectations. Celeste Barber reminds us that it’s okay to be ourselves.
6. Monica McInerney
Date of Birth: 1965
Monica McInerney is a Dublin-based Australian author who grew up in a family of seven in Clare Valley. Her books often delve into the topic of complex family dynamics — how siblings fight, how two families interact, how parents grieve the loss of a child.
Monica McInerney is a prolific novelist with 14 amazing novels under her belt. Among these is ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year award-winner, Those Faraday Girls.
5. Kate Morton
Date of Birth: 1976
Birthplace: Berri, Australia
Kate Morton has written six Australian novels, most of which tell the stories of bold and passionate women. Her books are often set in the past and feature her protagonists struggling against gender and class discrimination.
Her first novel, The House at Riverton, also known as The Shifting Fog is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2007 ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year award. It tells the story of Grace Bradley, a 98-year-old woman telling a young director her stories from when she was working as a servant in 1924.
Her other books include her latest, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, another ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year award-winner, The Forgotten Garden, and New York Times bestsellers, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, and The Lake House.
4. Jane Harper
Date of Birth: 1980
Birthplace: Manchester, United Kingdom
Before becoming a crime and thriller author, Jane Harper worked at the Hull Daily Mail and The Herald Sun as one of their intrepid journalists.
She is, perhaps, best known for her book, The Dry, which won a Gold ABIA for Book of the Year and the Gold Dagger from the Crime Writers' Association. A movie adaptation, starring Eric Bana, started filming in Western Victoria, earlier this year in March.
Her other books include New York Times bestseller, Force of Nature, which won the Prix Polar Award for Best International Novel, and The Lost Man.
3. Larissa Behrendt
Date of Birth: April 1, 1969
Birthplace: Cooma, Australia
Activist, author, and professor Larissa Behrendt is considered to be among the best indigenous Australian authors of all time. Her writing draws from her experiences while growing up and facing racial discrimination. This is reflected in her debut novel, Home, which won the David Unaipon Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel.
Her non-fiction work, which includes Aboriginal Dispute Resolution and Achieving Social Justice, calls for land reform and granting more autonomy to indigenous communities.
2. Mem Fox
Date of Birth: March 5, 1946
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
Mem Fox is one of the most beloved Australian children’s authors and a strong advocate for literacy and getting kids to read more. She once said, "Literacy has become the great focus of my life – it's my passion, my battle and my mission and my exhaustion." She has even written a book to encourage parents to read to their kids, entitled Reading Magic.
She is best known for her picture book, Possum Magic. It’s one of the most recognisable books in Australia, with over 3 and a half million books sold.
Her other books include New York Times bestseller, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, as well as Koala Lou, Time for Bed, and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.
1. Liane Moriarty
Date of Birth: November 15, 1966
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
At the very top of this list of female Australian writers is New York Times bestselling author, Liane Moriarty. She is perhaps best known for her dramatic novel, Big Little Lies. Her book was so popular that it was adapted by HBO into a television series.
Her books strike a delicate balance between telling gripping and dramatic stories and maintaining an air of irreverent humour. She’s also unafraid of tackling difficult subjects like infidelity and domestic abuse. While her stories are fictional, they are rooted in the very real struggles of women today.
Her other books include bestseller, The Husband’s Secret, which is being adapted into a film starring Blake Lively, and New York Times bestsellers, Truly Madly Guilty and Nine Perfect Strangers.
Powerful Stories, Powerful Women
Stories are most powerful when they are able to remind us of our own lives. Each of the women on this list tells powerful stories about powerful women. If you want to gain a unique insight into the lives of Australian women, both past and present, these authors provide the perfect gateway to into the hidden world of female Australian literature.