About the book

This is the first book-length biography of Thea Astley, one of our most critically acclaimed writers. She was the first woman to win  the Miles Franklin Award multiple times—four in total. With many of her works published internationally, Astley was a trailblazer for women writers.

Karen Lamb has drawn on an unparalleled range of interviews and correspondence to create a detailed picture of Thea the woman, as well as Astley the writer. She has sought to understand Astleys private world and how that shaped the distinctive body of work that is Thea Astleys literary legacy.

Thea Astley—book—Australian history—PMLA 2016
Published by: 
University of Queensland Press

About the author


Karen Lamb teaches literature and communication at the Australian Catholic University and has held teaching and research positions at the University of Queensland, Monash University and the University of Melbourne, where she taught in literary studies, media and communication, and cultural studies. Her research interests include Australian literature, life writing, and the cultural context of authorship. She has edited a book of Australian short stories, and published book chapters and articles on Australian authors, including a book on Peter Carey. She lives in Sydney.

Karen Lamb—author—Australian history—PMLA 2016

Judges’ comments

This is, surprisingly, the first full biography of one of Australia's most important (and influential) novelists and story writers. Massively researched over many years and clearly written, it is a life and times story of a remarkable writer who 'invented' her own weather in often dry and stormy times. A born writer she began as a child, published in the children's pages of a newspaper, and emerged a major literary figure in a period when women were still restricted in themes and style.

Thea Astley published many novels of love and loathing, comedy and despair, and won many literary awards. Her biographer, Karen Lamb, includes the commentaries of her critics as well as of her supporters, and considers no detail too unimportant to note. It is a tour de force.