Dr Stephanie Owen Reeder is a Canberra-based writer, illustrator, editor and reviewer. Stephanie writes and illustrates books for both children and adults, as well as reviewing children’s picture books and editing a wide range of publications.

Born on 7 August 1951 in Sydney to Frank and Margo Baker, I grew up in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, with a short stint in Adelaide. In many ways I had an idyllic childhood, playing in the bush and at the beach with my three siblings and my friends, but my favourite pastimes were reading, writing and drawing. In my early years my parents moved house a lot, and so I attended six primary schools, including three in one year! Luckily, I lived in Avalon in Sydney during all of my high school years at Pittwater High.

I attended the University of Sydney in the early 1970s, and went on to teach English, history and languages at secondary schools in Sydney before moving to Canberra in 1975 after the birth of my twins, Erryn and Bianca, with my first husband, Jim Reeder.

After the birth of my third child, Megan, in 1978, I tutored at university in children’s literature and librarianship while completing a Masters Degree in Education. I then returned to full-time work. After a short stint as a librarian at the National Library of Australia, I became a Hansard editor at Federal Parliament, where I worked for nearly 25 years.

While working full-time at Hansard, I had a number of short stories and articles published, as well as my first children’s picture book, The Flaming Witch (Random House, 1997), featuring stunning illustrations by Indonesian artist Dadang Christanto. I won two writing competitions (the Manning Clark Footnotes to History Essay Competition and the Australian Book Review Reviewing Competition), edited a wide range of books and journals, including The Inside Story: Creating Books for Children, was the Editor of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s journal Reading Time, reviewed books for a range of publications, studied Fine Art at the Australian National University, and did a PhD in Communication at the University of Canberra. During this time I also had a car accident and, probably not surprisingly, a heart attack!

Since retiring from Hansard in 2006, I have worked as a university lecturer and as a freelance editor, writer and reviewer. During that time, I have written and illustrated 10 children’s books and two books for adults, all published by the National Library of Australia.

I have had some successes with my children’s books:

  • Lost! A True Tale from the Bush was shortlisted for the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Awards in 2010
  • I’ve Got a Feeling! was an IBBY Outstanding Book for Young People with a Disability in 2011
  •  Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea, won the Young People’s History Prize in the New South Wales Premier’s History Awards in 2012
  • Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony was highly commended in the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards in 2016 and shortlisted for the Young People’s History Prize in the New South Wales Premier’s History Awards in 2015. It won the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books in the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Awards in 2016. The film rights for the book have also been optioned.

New editions of Lost! and Amazing Grace are now available in their brand-new ‘Heritage Heroes’ format. I am currently working on my next Heritage Heroes title – Marvellous Miss May, Queen of the Circus – which is due out in early 2018, and on a number of picture book projects.

I live in Canberra, and I am happily married to my long-term partner, John Hession. I am also the besotted grandmother of Kai, Lucien (Louie) and Ava, who will no doubt inspire many more books for children.

Academic qualifications

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Canberra, 2004

Fine Art Submajor, Australian National University, 1982–83

Master of Education, Canberra College of Advanced Education, 1983 (Commonwealth Postgraduate Award)

Graduate Diploma in Librarianship, Canberra College of Advanced Education, 1980

Diploma in Education, University of Sydney, 1975 (Teachers College Scholarship, Distinguished Academic Record, Cheshire Publishing Prize for History Method)

Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Sydney University, 1974 (Teachers College Scholarship, Honours in Indonesian and Malaysian Studies)

Higher School Certificate, Pittwater High School, New South Wales, 1969 (Commonwealth Scholarship, Honours List Level I English)

Biographical and bibliographical information

AustLit: The Resource for Australian Literature, at www.austlit.edu.au

‘Know the Author: Stephanie Owen Reeder’, interviewed by Rae Carlyle, Magpies, 26 (5), November 2011: 4-7

Research File No. 404, National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature, University of Canberra, https://www.canberra.edu.au/national-centre-for-australian-childrens-literature/research-files/author-illustrator/q-t

Contemporary Authors: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Current Writers in Fiction, General Nonfiction, Poetry, Journalism, Drama, Motion Pictures, Television, and other Fields, Vol. 169, Gale Group, Detroit: 352–353

The Writers Directory 2005, 20th Edition, Volume 2, Gale Group, Detroit, 2005: 1401

Something about the Author: Facts and Pictures about Authors and Illustrators of Books for Young People, Volume 102, Gale Group, Detroit 1999: 174–5