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Home > View & Discuss > Sonya Hartnett on the importance of place

Sonya Hartnett on the importance of place

Speaker(s): Sonya Hartnett

  • Date recorded: 7 Jul 2010

  • Duration: 42:28

'I'd discovered Merri Creek, that thread of unfragrant water I would come to depend on as a muse.'

- Sonya Hartnett

About this video

Melbourne’s suburbs have played a starring role in the novels of local author Sonya Hartnett, including Thursday’s child and Of a boy.

In her Redmond Barry Lecture, Sonya remembers the many suburban homes she’s lived in since she first left home as a 23-year-old – 10 houses in 20 years, to be exact.

From a share flat in East Kew to a mortgaged villa in Clifton Hill, she teases out the attraction of reading and writing about the places we know.

'Sometimes I toy with the idea of writing a novel about places that now exist only in memory,' she says, 'but I think it would be the saddest story to write, and universally heartbreaking to read.'

This Redmond Barry Lecture was held on 7 July 2010.


Sonya Hartnett’s first novel was published when she was a teenager in 1984.

Many of her stories feature very local, suburban settings in Melbourne and the suburbs are a theme of her lecture.

Sonya's award-winning books include Thursday’s child, Ghost’s child and Of a boy. In 2008 she was the recipient of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.