Woman Gribble, Diana (1942 - 2011)

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Businesswoman, Editor and Publisher
Alternative Names
  • Glenn, Diana (Maiden)

Written by Ann Standish, The University of Melbourne

Diana Glenn was born in Melbourne in 1942, the daughter of wealthy industrialist, Archibald Glenn and his wife, Betty. She was educated at Fintona Girls' School in Malvern, Melbourne and went on to study architecture at the University of Melbourne. She soon realised that architecture did not suit her and left the course to work in an advertising agency. Here, she gained experience in media production. She married Jack Gribble during the 1960s, and became involved in feminist politics.

In 1975, Gribble went into partnership with her friend Hilary McPhee to form the publishing house McPhee Gribble. McPhee ran the publishing side of the business, while Gribble was in charge of production from manuscript to distribution. Both were critical to the company's success in finding, nurturing and supporting new talent. Initially the company specialised in children's books, forging joint projects with other publishers like Penguin and UQP. Soon, however, it was developing its own adult fiction list, publishing emerging and established authors including Helen Garner, Tim Winton, Murray Bail, Kaz Cooke, Kathy Lette, Gabrielle Carey and Drusilla Modjeska.

In 1979, Gribble and McPhee, along with Joyce Nicholson, Anne O'Donovan and Sally Milner, also established Sisters Publishing, a mail order book club devoted to publishing quality works 'for women, by women and about women', which also distributed titles from overseas feminist presses such as Virago and the Women's Press. The innovative structure and the workload involved proved unviable in the long term and the business wound up after five years.

By contrast, McPhee Gribble flourished at first. Throughout the 1980s, however, it began to suffer financial difficulties to which small independent businesses are prone. In 1990 the company's name, publishing assets and goodwill were sold to Penguin. While Hilary McPhee moved to Penguin, as publisher of McPhee Gribble/Penguin titles, Diane Gribble moved on to establish other influential media ventures.

In 1990, Diane Gribble, with Eric Beecher as her business partner, set up Text Media, 'an independent media company producing magazines, books, local papers and custom publishing', where her reputation for nurturing literary talent and backing innovative forms of media and creating companies grew. In 2004, the media part of the company was sold to Fairfax, publishers of the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, and the book side became a separate identity, in partnership with British company Canongate. Gribble retired from Text at this time and, again with Beecher, founded Private Media, the company that now publishes the influential independent news media outlet Crikey.com, among other entities.

Sophie Cunningham, who started her editing career at McPhee Gribble and is currently chair of the literature board of the Australian Council, has declared Diane Gribble to be 'one of the most important people on our publishing and media landscape for the last 35 years', and as 'direct and clear sighted in both her praise and criticism' (Cunningham). As one of the driving forces behind three influential publishing ventures, each breaking new ground at the time they were established and maintaining their relevance over time, she certainly led the way in several forms of Australian publishing.

In addition to her role as a publisher, Gribble was a deputy chairwoman of the ABC and sat on many boards in the arts and media world, including those of Lonely Planet, CARE Australia, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Major Events Company and Circus Oz. She died in 2011.

Archival Resources

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • McPhee Gribble Pty Ltd, 1975 - 1990, 1999.0048; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details
  • Sisters Publishing Ltd, 1978 - 1987, 1999.0016; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Published Resources


  • McPhee, Hilary, Other People's Words, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, New South Wales, 2001. Details

Online Resources

See also