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Alison Croggon

Artist, Writer

I don’t remember learning how to write.

Apparently I nagged my parents to teach me to read when I was tiny and wrote a poem on my first day at school. My first primary school teacher, Mrs Wilton, told me that one day she would buy my books, and wrote to me for years afterwards. I think I was lucky to have a teacher as perceptive as she was.

I wrote a lot of poems as a child, but the first thing I really remember wanting to write was a fantasy novel. I read The Lord of the Rings when I was ten years old, and fired with enthusiasm I wrote about a hundred pages of a book that was almost exactly like The Lord of the Rings. I threw it out, but I wish I still had it. It was thirty years before I finally did write that fantasy novel. Sometimes books take a long time.

As well as the five Books of Pellinor, I’ve published two other fantasy novels – Black Spring and The River and the Book – and seven collections of poems. And, at last count, about a dozen texts for theatre, which include eight opera libretti. Working with composers kind of happened by accident, like a lot of things in my life, and it’s something I really enjoy doing. I’m also a critic of performance, so I have spent a lot of my life in the theatre.

I’m married to another writer, the playwright Daniel Keene, and we live in Melbourne, Australia. On occasion we enjoy co-writing. The first thing we wrote together was a piece of music theatre, Night Songs, and it was so much fun (and so much less stressful than writing by ourselves) that we have gone on to write a novel together, the beginning of a new speculative fiction series. I’m working on two other fantasy novels, so it doesn’t seem as if I’ll stop any time soon.

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Cultural criticism and cultural memory
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Conversation 8 - 8 Aug 2021

Cultural criticism and cultural memory

In a newly published Platform Paper, Alison Croggon considers the state of critical writing in Australia and asks, should it disappear, to whom would that matter?

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