Remembering Rosie Scott
May 10, 2017
Rosie Scott was a critically-acclaimed writer, a passionate human rights activist, a creative writing mentor, a wife, mother and grandmother.
Born in 1948 in Wellington, New Zealand, her childhood was spent freely roaming the crashing, wild ‘edge of the world’ with her siblings. She began writing as a child, her curiosity and imagination likely inspired by the bohemian life she led with her family.
She studied at the University of Auckland and later completed a Masters in English at the University of Wellington. She married the Australian film director and science writer, Danny Vendramini, and in 1987 they moved to Brisbane with their two daughters, Bella and Josie, later settling in Sydney.
Before becoming a full-time professional writer, she worked as a counsellor, a social worker, fruit-picker, actor and stand-up comic. It was in 1984 that her first book, a poetry collection called Flesh and Blood, was published. Four years later saw the publication of another first for Rosie, this time her first novel, Glory Days, a depiction of the Auckland underclass who exist in the fringes of society.
She went on to write and publish six novels in total, the last of which was Faith Singer, set in Sydney’s King Cross and exploring the passionate, kind, and dangerous lives of the people who live there. Faith Singer was listed as one of 50 Essential Reads by Living Writers by the Orange Prize committee, and was selected as one of the initial 200 books on the Reading Australia list.
She has been a creative writing teacher and mentor to a number of writers, including Anne Deveson and Georgia Blain. While she was Chair of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) she helped instigate the ASA mentoring program and worked as a professional mentor for over ten years. She taught creative writing at UTS and the Faber Academy. She was also part of the ASA committee who selected the first 200 books to be on the Reading Australia list.
Her life-long interest in politics and social justice led her to campaign for various human rights issues. She co-edited two books with Tom Keneally, A Country Too Far (2004), a collection of fiction, poetry, memoir and essays by some of the best Australian writers all exploring the treatment of those seeking asylum in Australia, and Another Country (2014), a Sydney PEN anthology which includes writing by refugees and former asylum seekers. In 2015 she co-edited The Intervention with Anita Heiss, a response to the 2007 Emergency Response Act introduced to the Northern Territory by the Howard government that has had a number of damaging effects on NT Indigenous communities.
She has received numerous awards to recognise her work as an author and human rights activist. In 2006 she was the inaugural recipient of the Sydney PEN Award which recognises the outstanding efforts of members in promoting PEN’s core values. She was later awarded a Lifetime Membership to PEN.
In 2012 she was selected as one of the 100 most influential people in Sydney for her work in teaching about asylum seekers.
On Australia Day in 2016, she was awarded Member (AM) in the General Division of The Order of Australia Honours in recognition of her “significant service to literature as an author and to human rights and inter-cultural understanding.” Later that year she was the recipient of the NSW Premier’s Special Award for her “significant service to literature as an author.” Rosie passed away on May 4th, 2017.