Lanyon, Anna

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Female. Education: Studied Spanish, Portuguese, and history at La Trobe University.


Home—Victoria, Australia. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Allen & Unwin, P.O. Box 8500, St. Leonards 1590, New South Wales, Australia.


Centre for the Study of Mother(s and Children's Health, La Trobe University, Portland, Victoria, Australia, Spanish teacher and translator.


New South Wales Premier's General History Prize, 2000, and New South Wales Independent Scholars Association Book Prize, 2001, both for Malinche's Conquest.


Malinche's Conquest, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 1999.

The New World of Martin Cortes, Allen & Unwin (Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 2003, Da Capo Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.


Australian writer Anna Lanyon has long held a deep interest in languages and history. She studied the subjects in school, and has traveled extensively worldwide in pursuit of these interests. She translates and teaches Spanish, and works at La Trobe University's Centre for the Study of Mother's and Children's Health in Portland, Victoria, Australia. While touring Mexico City, Mexico, Lanyon became interested in the historical figure of Malinche, an Amerindian woman depicted in Diego Rivera's mural in the Palacio Nacional. After extensive research, Lanyon's book on the subject, Malinche's Conquest, was published in 1999. It tells the story of Malinche's life and relationship with Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes, for whom she served as translator and concubine, and with whom she bore a son. Malinche was abandoned by her Aztec family as a young girl and taken as a slave. She learned the Mayan dialects used in the Yucatan while still understanding the language of the Aztecs, and her skill with language enabled her to survive during chaotic times.

Lanyon's work on Malinche's Conquest won her two Australian book awards, as well as the praise of critics. Some reviewers felt the book does more than give a biography of Malinche; it also provides insight into Mexican culture. Booklist contributor Jay Freeman noted that, "for Lanyon, Malinche is a symbol for a somewhat schizophrenic culture that has yet to fully synthesize its dual European and Amerindian heritages."

While conducting research for Malinche's Conquest, Lanyon discovered that Malinche had had an illegitimate son with Cortes. She consequently published The New World of Martin Cortes, the story of Malinche's son and his tumultuous journey from Mexico to Europe and back again. As a blend of history and memoir, the book melds Lanyon's experiences conducting research at Spanish and Mexican archives and historic sites into the story of Martin Cortes. Cortes was sent to Spain at age six to become a page for the Spanish prince; he later fought as a Spanish soldier. Returning to Mexico with his half-brother, he laterbecame embroiled in a legal battle, was implicated in a supposed rebellion, and was tortured.

The New World of Martin Cortes was lauded by critics. Gilbert Taylor, writing in Booklist, was drawn to Lanyon's effort to create a book that does more than simply tell the history of a figure. He wrote, "Lanyon tells Martin's life story and also ponders the symbolism that Martin's dual ethnicity." Other reviewers focused on Lanyon's ability to write a story both moving and well researched. "She captures the reader's imagination as she describes her travels to the relevant sites, producing a marvelous tale," commented Dale Farris in a Library Journal review.



Biography, winter, 2001, Helen Elliott, review of Malinche's Conquest, p. 341.

Booklist, July, 2000, Jay Freeman, review of Malinche's Conquest, p. 2004; July 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of The New World of Martin Cortes, p. 1812.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2004, review of The New World of Martin Cortes, p. 431.

Library Journal, July, 2004, Dale Farris, review of The New World of Martin Cortes, p. 98.

Publishers Weekly, May 17, 2004, review of The New World of Martin Cortes, p. 44.


Allen & Unwin Web site, (November 10, 2004).

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Web site, (November 15, 2004), "Anna Lanyon."

Mexican Cultural Fund Book Launch Web site, (November 15, 2004).*