Halligan, Marion (Mildred Crothall) 1940-
HALLIGAN, Marion (Mildred Crothall) 1940-
PERSONAL: Born April 16, 1940, in Newcastle, Australia; daughter of A. J. (a public servant) and M. A. (a homemaker; maiden name, Cogan) Crothall; married Graham James Halligan (a university lecturer), June 8, 1963 (died, November, 1998); children: Lucy Beatrice, James Sebastian. Ethnicity: "English extraction." Education: University of Newcastle, B.A. (with honors), 1961, diploma of education, 1962.
ADDRESSES: Home and offıce—6 Caldwell St., Hackett, Australian Capital Territory 2602, Australia; fax: 61-26-249-7120. Agent—Margaret Connolly, 37 Ormond St., Paddington, New South Wales 2021, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. Teacher in Canberra, Australia, 1963-65 and 1974-86; Charles Sturt University, writer in residence, 1990; University of Adelaide, writer in residence, then distinguished visiting scholar; also writer in residence at Monash University and Latrobe University; gives readings from her works in Australia and abroad, including Keesing Studio, Paris, France. Australian National Word Festival, committee chair, 1987, then patron; Literature Board of Australia, chair, 1992-95; Australia Council, member; Australian Capital Territory Writers' Centre, past chair. Newcastle Regional Museum, visiting curator, 2002.
MEMBER: Australian Society of Authors, Australian Symposium of Gastronomy.
AWARDS, HONORS: Fellow, Australian Literature Board, 1981, 1987, 1998; Patricia Hackett Prize, 1985, for best creative contribution to Westerly; A. M. Butterlay/F. Earle Hooper Award, 1986, for a short story in Southerly; Steele Rudd Award and Braille Book of the Year Award, both 1989, for The Living Hothouse; Geraldine Pascall Prize for critical writing, Geraldine Pascall Foundation, 1990; award for gastronomic writing, 1991, for Eat My Words; Age Book of the Year Award, 1992, Australian Capital Territory Book of the Year Award, 1993, 3M Talking Book of the Year Award, 1993, and Nita B. Kibble Award, 1994, all for Lovers' Knots: A Hundred-Year Novel; Newton-John Award, University of Newcastle, 1994.
Self Possession, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1987.
Spider Cup, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1990.
Lovers' Knots: A Hundred-Year Novel, William Heinemann Australia (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1992.
Wishbone, William Heinemann Australia (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1994.
The Golden Dress, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1999.
The Fog Garden, Allen & Unwin (St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia), 2001.
The Point, Allen & Unwin (St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia), 2003.
The Living Hothouse, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1988.
The Hanged Man in the Garden, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1989.
The Worry Box, William Heinemann Australia (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1993.
Collected Short Stories, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia), 1997.
(Editor, with Rosanne Fitzgibbon) The Gift of Story:Three Decades of UQP Short Stories, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia) 1998.
Eat My Words (essays), Angus & Robertson (Pymble, New South Wales, Australia), 1990.
Kilcallow Catch (music theater piece for children), 1992.
Gastronomica (five one-act plays), produced in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, at Melbourne Festival, 1994.
Cockles of the Heart (essays), Minerva (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1996.
Out of the Picture (essays and short stories), National Library of Australia (Canberra, New South Wales, Australia), 1996.
The Midwife's Daughters (juvenile), Reed for Kids (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1997.
(With Lucy Frost) Those Women Who Go to Hotels, Minerva (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1997.
(Editor) Storykeepers (essays), Duffy & Snellgrove (Sydney, Australia), 2001.
Work represented in anthologies, including Canberra Tales, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1988. Contributor of short stories, articles, and reviews to periodicals, including Southerly, Westerly, Age, Australian, Australian Book Review, and Canberra Times; also book reviewer for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio network.
SIDELIGHTS: Marion Halligan is an Australian author particularly known for both her fiction and her quirky, autobiographical writing on food. Her first novel, Self Possession, concerns a physically plain, socially maladjusted college student who is transformed into a striking, confident woman under the ministrations of two conniving couples and an arrogant artist. But even as she finds herself among the more socially desirable students on campus, the heroine must come to terms with both her new persona and those individuals who spurred her transformation.
Another novel, Lovers' Knots: A Hundred-Year Novel, is a multigenerational saga beginning just prior to World War I. In the tale, Ada and Albert Gray arrive in Australia from England hoping to spare their fragile son another trying winter. Meanwhile, a Latvian mother arrives in New Zealand with her own son. In the ensuing decades, the two families intertwine through marriage in a multitude of ways. "There's raveling and unraveling," Halligan acknowledged to Nancy Phelan in the Australian Book Review. Phelan called Lovers' Knots "an ambitious novel" and observed that it deals with "the haphazardness, or the miracles, of birth, family, destiny, existence." Phelan concluded that the tale "has all the depth, the maturity, the strength of work that springs from familiar territory and affectionate memory."
The novel Wishbone details the interactions of various figures living at an apartment complex. "As a book of objects," Kevin Brophy wrote in the Australian Book Review, "it is set among people who live in a scaled-down version of Melrose Place, with the heated outdoor swimming pool as the centrepiece, a body-building gym as a sideshow and sexual longings, misunderstandings and unexpected couplings galore." During the course of the novels, various characters become involved in sexual duplicity and even murder. Brophy wrote that in Wishbone "there are always more than several things happening," and he described the novel as "the kind of book you might wish for when you want to be taken out of yourself for a while, in an unexpected way." In the Sunday Mail, Robyn Garner deemed Wishbone "a gently seductive and delightfully humorous tale about the tangled web of human relationships, of choices made, of secret dreams, and of wishes that sometimes do, and sometimes don't, come true."
Like her novels, Halligan's short stories and essays often deal with unlikely actions or associations. For example, in "Paternity Suit," which is featured in Halligan's collection The Hanged Man in the Garden, a character experiences relief upon learning that he is not the father of his friend's child, but he is then compelled to propose marriage. Perhaps most popular of Halligan's books is Eat My Words, a collection of essays about eating.
Halligan is coeditor, with Rosanne Fitzgerald, of The Gift of Story: Three Decades of UQP Short Stories. In a Journal of Australian Studies review, Ingrid Woodrow described the volume as "a small-format 'cased' book that looks, indeed, like a gift, with elegant gold stamping, a muted gold dust jacket, and a simple, non-image cover layout designed by Kate Barry." The collection was published to commemorate the fiftieth birthday of the University of Queensland Press.
The title of The Point refers to the fictional restaurant on the shore of Lake Burley in Canberra, where the owner, Flora, creates incredible dishes for the pleasure of her customers. The main narrator is Jerome, a former Franciscan monk and now a computer scientist, with contributions from a variety of other characters. Gillian Dooley wrote in the Journal of Australian Studies that "there is surely a double meaning to this simple title. The characters are philosophers, criminals, tramps, and wordsmiths, all perhaps searching for the point of an apparently pointless existence. Halligan naturally does not offer any conclusions, but one is left feeling that the point of life is to live and enjoy what it has to offer—love, friendship, art, beauty, knowledge. There will be a price, but it will be worth it, at least some of the time."
Halligan once told CA: "What really interests me is putting the world as I perceive it into words. It is by finding words for things that I and so my readers can understand them."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Australian Book Review, June, 1992, Nancy Phelan, review of Lovers' Knots: A Hundred-Year Novel, pp. 4-7; October, 1994, Kevin Brophy, review of Wishbone, pp. 8-9; April, 1996, p. 32.
Bulletin with Newsweek, May 22, 2001, Maxine McKew, review of The Fog Garden, p. 54; April 1, 2003, Diana Bagnall, review of The Point, p. 76.
Economist, May 13, 2000, review of The GoldenDress, p. 14.
Journal of Australian Studies, March, 1999, Ingrid Woodrow, review of The Gift of Story, p. 192; June, 2003, Gillian Dooley, review of The Point, p. 184.
Law Society Journal, March, 2000, Jane Sanders, review of The Gift of Story: Three Decades of UQP Short Stories, p. 86.
Listener, September 16, 1995, p. 50.
Sunday Mail, June 25, 1995, Robyn Garner, review of Wishbone, p. 103.