Croggon, Alison 1962-

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Croggon, Alison 1962-


Born 1962, in South Africa; married Daniel Keene (a playwright); children: three, including Josh.


Home—Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].


Writer, poet, playwright, editor, and critic. Poetry editor for Overland Extra, 1992, Modern Writing, 1992-94, and Voices, 1996; founding editor of literary arts journal Masthead. Previously worked as a journalist for Herald, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Board member for Keene/Taylor Theatre Project, 1997-2001; member of artistic counsel for Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne, 2005-06; 2000 Australia Council writer-in-residence at Cambridge University, Cambridge England.

Awards, Honors

Anne Elder and Dame Mary Gilmore prizes, both 1991, both for This Is the Stone; Highly Commended designation, Vogel/Australian National Literary Award, 1995, for Navigatio; Pushcart Prize nomination, 2003, for Attempts at Being; Aurealis Award shortlist, for The Gift; grants and fellowships from Australia Council, Victorian Ministry for the Arts, and Victorian Council for the Arts.


(Author of text) The Burrow: Opera in Prologue and Five Scenes, introductory note by Elliot Gyger, Pellinor (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

(Author of text, with Daniel Keene and Jacinta le Plastrier) Skinless Kiss of Angels (audio CD), score by Michael Smetanin, ABC Classics, 1995.

Navigatio (novella), Black Pepper (North Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia), 1996.

Lenz (play; based on the novella by Georg Buchner), produced in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1996.

(Author of lyrics) Confidentially Yours (musical), produced in Australia, 1998.

(Author of libretto) Gauguin, music by Michael Smetanin, produced at Melbourne International Festival of the Arts (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Blue (play), produced in Canberra, Australia Capital Territory, Australia), 2001.


This Is the Stone (published with Pharaohs Returning by Fiona Perry), Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1991.

The Blue Gate, Black Pepper (North Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

Mnemosyne, Wild Honey (County Wicklow, Ireland), 2002.

Attempts at Being, Salt (Applecross, WA), 2002.

The Common Flesh: New and Selected Poems, Arc (Todmorden, England), 2003.

November Burning, Vagabond Press (Newton, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.

Ash, Cusp Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2006.

Also author of Monologues for an Apocalypse, aired on ABC Radio National in Australia, 2001. Contributor of poetry to numerous anthologies, chapbooks, and periodicals.

Author's works have also been published in England and Germany.


The Gift, Penguin Books (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2002, published as The Naming, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

The Riddle, Penguin Books (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

The Crow, Penguin Books (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2006.

The Singing, Penguin Books (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2008, Candlewick Press (New York, NY), 2009.


Poems have been adapted for music.


Alison Croggon is a prolific Australian writer whose work includes poetry, plays, opera libretti, and fantasy fiction. Croggon's interest in fantasy began as a child when she read The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Despite her interest in this genre, Croggon turned to writing poetry and plays and did not begin writing fantasy until 1999 when her son Josh was old enough to also read Tolkien's classic trilogy.

The first book in Croggon's projected "Pellinor" quartet was published in Australia as The Gift and in the United States as The Naming. The story, told in the form of a found document, focuses on sixteen-year-old slave Maerad. When she encounters a mysterious stranger named Bard Cadvan, the man offers to help her escape from the small mountain village where she is held. As the story progresses, Maerad discovers her true heritage and learns that she has magical powers, which she eventually uses to help her newfound friends, including her long-lost brother.

Critics generally praised Croggon's first foray into fantasy. Carolyn Phelan, writing in Booklist, noted that in The Naming the author "makes good use of imagery in her writing." Other critics also extolled The Naming, including Leslie Farmer who wrote in Kliatt: "This fantasy is a solid winner. The characters are well developed, and the plot twists keep the reader engaged." In addition, the author's ability to create a fantasy realm that nevertheless seems realistic was widely noted by reviewers. For example, Beth L. Meister, writing in School Library Journal, commented that Croggon "has created a world that is both authentic and exotic, welcoming and frightening," and a Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to The Naming as "a lush, vivid epic."

In The Riddle, a sequel to The Naming, Maerad has discovered that she is a bard. Now she is pursuing the mystery of the Treesong even as she deals with the fact that her ultimate destiny is to be the Chosen One. She is aided in her search by her original rescuer, Bard Cadvan, until he is lost in an avalanche. The story then follows Maerad as she travels on her own, confronting her weaknesses and powers as she battles against time and the takeover of the kingdom. In Kliatt Farmer noted that "fantasy readers will probably enjoy this saga." Other critics also noted the book's appeal to lovers of fantasy, Cristi Voth writing in School Library Journal that The Riddle is "an engrossing world that fantasy aficionados will be eager to revisit." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the author's "world is rich and passionate, brimming with archetypal motifs but freshly splendorous in its own right." As with the first book, reviewers of The Riddle commented on the author's indebtedness to Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, with Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan writing that Croggon's "respect for Tolkien's trilogy shows clearly in the book's conception, structure, and … backstory notes."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, May 1, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Naming, p. 1579; November 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Riddle, p. 41.

Bookseller, January 16, 2004, Claudia Mody, review of The Gift, p. 37.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2005, review of The Naming, p. 634; August 15, 2006, review of The Riddle, p. 838.

Kliatt, July, 2005, Lesley Farmer, review of The Naming, p. 10; September, 2006, Lesley Farmer, review of The Riddle, p. 8.

School Library Journal, October, 2005, Beth L. Meister, review of The Naming, p. 157; January, 2007, Cristi Voth, review of The Riddle, p. 126.


Alison Croggon Home Page, (October 28, 2008).

Walker Books Web site, (October 28, 2008), "Alison Croggon."

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Croggon, Alison 1962-

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