• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE2113

Halligan, Marion Mildred

(1940 – )
  • Born 16 April, 1940, Newcastle New South Wales Australia
  • Occupation Author


Marion Halligan is an acclaimed author of novels, short stories, reviews, essays and gastronomic writing.

(This entry is sponsored by generous donation from Christine Foley.)


Marion Halligan was born and educated in Newcastle, New South Wales, and worked as a school teacher and freelance journalist before becoming a prolific writer in her forties. She moved to Canberra in the 1960s and her first published short story appeared in the Australian Women’s Weekly in 1969. She married Graham Halligan and they had two children.

Her fiction books include: Self Possession (1987), The Living Hothouse (1988), The Hanged Man in the Garden (1989), Spider Cup (1990), Lovers’ Knots: A Hundred-Year Novel (1992), The Worry Box (1993), Wishbone (1994), The Midwife’s Daughters (1997), The Golden Dress (1998), The Fog Garden: A Novel (2001), The Point (2003) and The Apricot Colonel (2006).

Halligan has published numerous short stories, including those in her Collected Stories (1997), in Best Australian Stories 2003, and those in Out of the Picture (1995), commissioned by the National Library of Australia and structured around works in the library’s Pictorial Collection. Her food and travel writing includes Eat My Words (1990), Cockles of the Heart (1996) and Taste of Memory (2004). She co-authored Those Women Who Go to Hotels with Lucy Frost in 1997.

She contributed writing on life in the 1970s for a Canberra Museum and Gallery exhibition, and also developed a play, Elastics (performed in 1987). She has curated a permanent exhibition for Newcastle Regional Museum, How shall we live?, and has written a series of restaurant performances entitled Gastronomica for the Melbourne Festival.

She was a member of Seven Writers – a group of seven Canberra-based writers whose work vividly portrayed life ‘beneath the surface of Canberra’ – and as part of this collective she contributed to Canberra Tales (1988), later reissued as The Division of Love (1996), an anthology of short stories about life in Canberra. The work received an ACT Bicentennial Award.

A chronology of Halligan’s other awards includes:

Patricia Hackett Prize (1985)
H.M. Butterley-F. Earle Hooper Memorial Award (1986)
ABC Bicentennial Literary Awards (finalist 1988)
Steele Rudd Award (1989)
Geraldine Pascal Prize for Critical Writing (1990)
NBC Banjo Award for Fiction (1990)
Prize for Gastronomic Writing (1991)
Age Book of the Year Award (1992) & Age Book of the Year Award, Imaginative Writing Prize (1992)
ACT Book of the Year Award (1993)
NBC Banjo Award for Fiction (shortlisted 1993)
Nita Kibble Literary Award (1994)
Newcastle University Newton John Award, for creative and innovative work (1994)
ACT Book Reviewer of the Year (1997 joint with Sara Dowse)
Age Book of the Year Award, Fiction Prize (shortlisted 1998)
Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best Book Sth East Asia and South Pacific (shortlisted 2004)
ACT Book of the Year Award (2004) for The Point

Halligan was writer-in-Residence at Charles Sturt University in 1990. She is a prolific writer of literature reviews and essays published in numerous major Australian newspapers and journals. She was chairperson of the Literature Board of the Australia Council (1992-1995) and has been chairperson of the Australian Word Festival.

Her work is inspired by personal experiences and the places in which she has lived. Her novel The Fog Garden draws on the experience of losing her husband to cancer.

In June 2006, Halligan was awarded with an AM – General Division, ‘for service to literature as an author, to the promotion of Australian writers and to support for literary events and professional organisations.’


Published resources

  • Book
    • The Fog Garden: A Novel, Halligan, Marion, 2001
    • The Division of Love: Stories, Barbalet, Margaret et al, 1995
    • The Apricot Colonel, Halligan, Marion, 2006
    • Cockles of the Heart, Halligan, Marion, 1996
    • Collected Stories, Halligan, Marion, 1997
    • Eat My Words, Halligan, Marion, 1990
    • The Golden Dress, Halligan, Marion, 1998
    • The Hanged Man in the Garden, Halligan, Marion, 1989
    • The Living Hothouse, Halligan, Marion, 1988
    • Lovers' Knots: a hundred-year novel, Halligan, Marion, 1993
    • Out of the Picture, Halligan, Marion, 1996
    • Self Possession, Halligan, Marion, 1987
    • Spidercup, Halligan, Marion, 1990
    • The Taste of Memory, Halligan, Marion, 2004
    • Wishbone, Halligan, Marion, 1995
    • The Worry Box, Halligan, Marion, 1993
  • Site Exhibition
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • National Library of Australia, Manuscript Collection
    • Records of the Seven Writers group, between 1986 and approximately 2000
    • Records of Curtis Brown (Australia) Pty Ltd., 1962-2002 [manuscript]
    • Papers of Marion Halligan, circa 1970-circa 2003 [manuscript]
  • State Library of New South Wales
    • Dale Spender - papers, 1972-1995

Related entries

  • Related Women
    • Dowse, Sara (1938 - )
    • Barbalet, Margaret Evelyn
    • Edgar, Suzanne (1939 - )
    • Eldridge, Marian Favel Clair (1936 - 1997)
    • Horsfield, Dorothy (1948 - )
    • Johnston, Dorothy (1948 - )
  • Membership
    • Seven Writers (1980 - 1998)
  • Related Awards
    • Nita B Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers