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True Stories - Helen Garner
, 2003

by Jenny Sages

encaustic, oil and pigment on composition board (support: 122.2 x 200.2 cm)

Helen Garner (b. 1942), author, was a secondary school teacher before the publication of her first novel, the semi –autobiographical Monkey Grip (1977). Winner of a National Book Council Award, it was made into an outstanding feature film released in 1982. Honour and Other People’s Children (1980), Postcards from Surfers (1985), The Children’s Bach (1984), Cosmo Cosmolino (1992), and The Feel of Steel (2001) followed. Garner’s fiction has strong moral themes, and since the 1990s she has pursued a variety of profound ethical questions in journal articles and non–fiction books. In 1995 The First Stone, exploring claims of sexual harassment at a Melbourne University college, caused a national sensation. Two years later True Stories, a collection of her non–fiction pieces, won the Nita B Kibble Award for women’s life writing. Her rumination on the murder of a Canberra student, Joe Cinque’s Consolation, was published in 2004. Since 2005 Garner has written occasional pieces for The Monthly, sometimes delightedly describing her life with her grandchildren.

Her recent fiction includes The Spare Room (2008); her latest non-fiction work is This House of Grief: The story of a murder trial (2014).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2004
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2004.183