John Marsden



Current Age



27 September 1950


Author, Writer, Teacher, School Principal

Early life

Marsden was born in Melbourne, Australia but spent the first 10 years of his life living in the country towns of Kyneton, Victoria and Devonport, Tasmania.[4] When he was 10 years old, Marsden moved to Sydney and attended The King's School, Parramatta.[4] Following his time there, Marsden was accepted into Sydney University to study a double degree in Law and Arts,[4] and attended university despite being confused about what he wanted to do.[7] However, Marsden struggled during his time there, and due to a sense of alienation and loneliness deriving from family rifts, educational experiences, and simply disliking law, he dropped out.[4][7]

After leaving University, Marsden became depressed, and attributes this depression in part to his inability to find a job that suited him.[7] As his depression deteriorated into suicidal thoughts, Marsden began seeing a psychiatrist. His psychiatrist eventually admitted him to a psychiatric hospital following a diagnosis of depression.[7][8]

Marsden credits his stint in the psychiatric hospital as an important period in his life: It actually was very, very helpful, very constructive and very useful. Because I started learning about feelings and relationships and communication, and the way the world really worked. Whereas I guess in the 1950s, at school especially, there was an emphasis on manners and appearances, and that seemed far more important than reality. So ever since, I've really distrusted appearance. I've been much more interested in reality and trying to get past that mask or that nice veneer and to find out what's really going on inside.[8]—John MarsdenAfter his stint in hospital, Marsden continued to take on many different jobs, and through his 20s Marsden worked in as many as 32 different jobs,[8] including an abattoir, working in a mortuary, delivering pizzas, working as a motorbike courier, working as s nightwatchman, selling encyclopaedias and working with chickens.[7]

Following this period of drifting, Marsden decided, in 1978, to try a teaching career.[4] Marsden claims to have always had an inkling that he may try teaching, and from the first day of his teaching course Marsden was confident that this was the career that suited him.[7]

[edit] Writing careerEdit

[edit] Early careerEdit

Whilst working at the prestigious Geelong Grammar School, Marsden made the decision to write for teenagers, following his dissatisfaction with his students' apathy towards reading,[4] or the observation that teenagers simply weren't reading anymore.[7] Marsden then wrote So Much To Tell You in only three weeks, and the book was published in 1987.[4] The book was eagerly received by teenagers, sold record numbers and won numerous awards including "Book of the Year" as awarded by the Children's Book Council of Australia.[9][10][11][12]

[edit] Later careerEdit

Following the publication of So Much To Tell You, Marsden claims that his life "took off".[7] Marsden had five books published in the next five years, whilst working as a full-time teacher and before writing the first of the Tomorrow series.

Marsden's highest selling book, Tomorrow, When the War Began has sold between 2 and 3 millions of copies throughout the world, and has been reprinted 26 times in Australia alone.[13][14][15] In 2000, the Swedish Government paid to have Tomorrow, When the War Began distributed to every child of appropriate age in the country after it was selected by their peers as the book reluctant readers would be most likely to enjoy.[14]

Marsden went on to write seven books in the Tomorrow Series, together with a follow-up trilogy, The Ellie Chronicles despite originally intending for the entire series to only consist of a trilogy.[16]

At the same time as writing the Tomorrow Series, Marsden wrote several other novels such as Checkers, edited works such as This I Believe, wrote children's picture books such as The Rabbits, poetry such as Prayer For The Twenty-First Century and non-fiction works such as Everything I Know About Writing and Secret Men's Business.[1]

[edit] John Marsden was a great writer that only wrote books aimed at teens.Edit

Marsden's earlier works are largely novels aimed at teenage or young adult audience.[1] Common themes in Marsden's works include sexuality, violence in society, survival at school and in a harsh world, and conflict with adult authority figures.[1] However, Marsden also has declared that he wishes to write about "things that have always been important for humans... [such as] love, for a start. And the absence of love. The way people relate to each other. The way people solve problems. Courage. Spirit. The human spirit."[7]

[edit] Awards and commendationsEdit

Marsden has won every major writing award in Australia for young people’s fiction[17] including what Marsden describes as one of the highlights of his career,[13] the 2006 Lloyd O'Neil Award for contributions to Australian publishing.[18] This award means that Marsden is one of only five authors to be honoured for lifelong services to the Australian book industry.[19] John Marsden was also nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2008, the world's largest children's and youth literature award, and the second largest literature prize in the world.[19]

Internationally, he has twice been named among Best Books of the Year by the American Library Association and once by Publishers’ Weekly (USA), has been runner-up for Dutch Children’s Book of the Year and short-listed for the German Young Readers’ Award, won the Grand Jury Prize as Austria’s Most Popular Writer for Teenagers, and won the coveted Buxtehuder Bulle in Germany.[5][17] However, despite his number of awards, Marsden has said that he generally does not care about awards (with the exception of the Lloyd O'Neil Award and The Melbourne Prize for Literature).[18]

In 1996, Marsden's books took the top six places on the Teenage Fiction best-seller lists for Australia.[1] Also in 1996, he was named 'Australia's most popular author today in any literary field' by The Australian newspaper.[1] In 1997 Australian readers voted three of his books into Australia's 100 most-loved books of all time.[1]

[edit] Teaching careerEdit

Marsden began teaching at All Saints College (Bathurst, New South Wales), in 1978 while studying Arts at the University of New England. He continued to teach at All Saints while completing his Diploma of Teaching from Mitchell College.[1] In 1982 Marsden became head of English at Geelong Grammar School, Highton, Victoria, and in 1984, Marsden began teaching at Timbertop, Geelong Grammar's 'bush' campus.[1]

Following the publication of his first books, Marsden continued as a full-time teacher for some years, whilst continuing to write several books.[4] However, following the success of his writing career, Marsden reluctantly left full-time teaching due to the growing list of invitations and commitments he had such as speaking at schools and libraries and other like places.[7] Marsden also attributes leaving full-time teaching to his frustration with his perception of schools focus on control outweighing their focus on student welface.[15][20]

In January 1998, Marsden purchased the Tye Estate, an 850 hectare natural bush property to the north of Melbourne, in the Hanging Rock area, which, with new additions now comprises 1100 hectares.[5] For eight years Marsden ran writing camps at this property, attracting school groups from as far away as Indonesia, Singapore and Turkey.[4]

The success of his writing camps inspired Marsden to go further and at the start of 2006 he launched his own school,[2] Candlebark School.[6] In terms of area, it is thought to be the largest school campus in the world.[15][21]

Candlebark's numbers are deliberately kept small, in the interests of maintaining a warm and friendly atmosphere, and its philosophy is one of creative lively learning which is purposeful and challenging. The school has a four-year waiting list.[4]

Marsden is the school's principal, but also maintains a full-time teaching load, as well as continuing his writing career.[4]

Due to his commitment to his teaching career, Marsden has indicated that he may never return to writing full time and is not concerned if he does not start any new books.[6][15] In fact, despite his writing success, Marsden prefers teaching to writing as he finds it "more satisfying, more creative, more adventurous, and something that will never lose its attraction".[20]

[edit] Published works and awardsEdit

Title Year Notes
So Much To Tell You 1987
The Great Gatenby 1989
Staying Alive In Year 5 1990
Out Of Time 1990
Letters from the Inside 1991
Take My Word For It 1992
Looking For Trouble 1993
Everything I Know About Writing 1993
Cool School 1996
  • Winner, KOALA (Kids Own Australian Literature Awards) 1998[23][26]
Creep Street 1996
Checkers 1996
This I Believe 1996
  • Editor
For Weddings and a Funeral 1996
  • Editor
Dear Miffy 1997
Prayer for the Twenty-First Century 1997
Norton's Hut 1998
The Rabbits 1998
The Journey 1998
Secret Men's Business 1998
Winter 2000
Marsden on Marsden 2000
The Head Book 2001
Millie 2002
The Magic Rainforest 2002
A Day In The Life Of Me 2002
The Boy You Brought Home 2002
A Roomful of Magic 2004
Hamlet: A Novel 2008
Home and Away 2008
The Tomorrow series

Main article: Tomorrow series

Tomorrow, When the War Began 1993
  • Winner, Australian Multicultural Children's Book Award 1994[23]
  • Selected, American Library Association list of Best Books for Young Adults 1996[32][33]
  • Selected, American Library Association list of 100 Best Books for Teens 1966-2000[34]
  • Selected, American Library Association list of Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 1998, Nominated 2011[35][36]
  • Winner, Fanfare Horn Book Best Book 1996[32]
  • Winner, Children's Yearly Best-Ever Reads (CYBER) Best Book for Older Readers 2000, 2001, 2002[23][37]
  • Selected, Whitcoulls top 100 books, 2008 (No. 63)[32]
  • Selected, COOL Awards (Canberra's Own Outstanding List) 1995[32]
  • Winner, KOALA (Kids Own Australian Literature Awards) 1995[23][32]
  • Winner, YABBA (Young Australian Best Book Award) 1995[23][32]
  • Winner, WAYRBA (West Australian Young Readers' Books Award) 1995[23]
  • Winner, BILBY Awards (Books I Love Best Yearly) 1998[23][32]
  • Nominated, South Carolina Book Award 1998[38]
  • Winner, New South Wales Talking Book Award[23]
The Dead of The Night 1994
The Third Day, The Frost 1995
Darkness, Be My Friend 1996
Burning For Revenge 1997
The Night Is For Hunting 1998
The Other Side Of Dawn 1999
The Ellie Chronicles
While I live 2003
Incurable 2005
Circle of Flight 2006

Information from Wikipedia