Looking for something to read? Luckily, Melbourne is filled to the brim with some wonderfully talented female writers. For International Women’s Day, we’ve put together a list of some awesome writers, who come from a myriad of backgrounds and experiences. Expect a vast range of short stories, memoirs, fiction and more. Whether you’re looking to hear a new perspective, or settle down for a cosy autumn read, here are some great women writers from Melbourne, the City of Literature.
1. Helen Garner
This list would not be complete without a mention of this titan in Melbourne’s literary scene. Novels, non-fiction, short stories, screenplays, musings about Melbourne life – she’s done it all. Scattered throughout her works, you’ll find familiar scenes from Melbourne, as well as topics like drug addiction, feminism and true crime. Garner has won multiple literary awards, including the Melbourne Prize for Literature in 2006, and a Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature in 2019.
2. Alice Pung
Pung is an award-winning novelist that grew up in Footscray and Braybrook. Her debut novel, Unpolished Gem, won Australian Newcomer of the Year at the 2007 Australian Book Industry Awards. Since then, her writing has flourished, with books and essays covering the Asian-Australian experience and adolescence. On top of being a renowned author, she is also a qualified lawyer.
3. Veronica Gorrie
Gorrie is a proud Gunai/Kurnai woman who lives and writes in Victoria. A former police officer, she made waves with her ground-breaking memoir, Black and Blue. This book covers her experience as one of the rare Aboriginal police officers in Australia, and explores institutional racism and sexism, as well as the impact of intergenerational trauma. Her memoir was the 2022 winner for both the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Literature and the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing.
4. Amra Pajalic
Pajalic is an award-winning author, whose debut novel The Good Daughter won the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Civic Choice Award. She writes both young adult and adult fiction, as well as memoir and romance. She is also the co-editor for the 2019 anthology, Growing up Muslim in Australia.
5. Kerry Greenwood
Greenwood has an extensive writing collection, including the Phryne Fisher historical mysteries, which has over 20 books in the series. With over 60 novels under her belt, she’s written mystery, science-fiction, historical fiction and children’s stories. In 2020, she received a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to literature. When she’s not writing, she is a solicitor.
6. AJ Clementine
Clementine is a Melbourne-based trans advocate and content creator. Her debut memoir, Girl, Transcending, was released last year, and explores the journey of her gender transition. It explores her path to self-love and acceptance, including her upbringing as a Wasian in a blended family. Girl, Transcending was written as a source of inspiration and a tool for self-acceptance, for both the LGBTQI+ community and those outside of it.
7. Andrea Goldsmith
Goldsmith started her career as a speech pathologist, before becoming a writer in the 80s. Since then, she has written several novels, including The Prosperous Thief, which was short-listed for the 2003 Miles Franklin Literary Award. Another novel, The Memory Trap, was the winner of the 2015 Melbourne Prize Best Writing Award.
8. Maxine Beneba Clarke
Born in Sydney but now based in Melbourne, Clarke is an Australian writer of Afro-Caribbean descent. Her works span across short fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and her short fiction collection, Foreign Soil, won the ABIA for Literary Fiction Book of the Year in 2015. Her poetry, Carrying the World, won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2017, and her acclaimed memoir, The Hate Race, explored what it was like growing up black in a white and middle-class Australia.