Described by a film company executive as ‘The Story Whisperer’ for her ability to discover and bring to life amazing true stories from Australia’s past, DR STEPHANIE OWEN REEDER is a Canberra-based author, illustrator, editor and reviewer. Stephanie writes and illustrates books for both children and adults.


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


Stephanie 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 twins, Erryn and Bianca, with her first husband, Jim Reeder.

After the birth of her third child, Megan, in 1978, Stephanie tutored in children’s literature and librarianship while completing a Masters Degree in Education at the Canberra College of Education, now the University of Canberra. She then returned to full-time work, first as a librarian at the National Library of Australia and then as a Hansard Editor at Federal Parliament, where she worked for nearly 25 years.


While working full-time at Hansard, Stephanie had a number of short stories and articles published in journals and magazines, including Reading TimeMagpies and The NSW School Magazine. Her first children’s picture book, The Flaming Witch (Random House), which featured stunning illustrations by Indonesian artist Dadang Christanto, was published in 1997.

During this time, Stephanie also 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 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. She also had a car accident and, probably not surprisingly, a heart attack!


Since retiring from Hansard in 2006, Stephanie has worked as a university lecturer and a freelance editor, writer and reviewer. During that time she has written and edited over 60 books, many published by the National Library of Australia through NLA Publishing.

Her books have won numerous awards, including the NSW Premier’s History Award and the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Award. In 2019, Stephanie was awarded the CBCA Laurie Copping Award for Distinguished Service to Children’s Literature in the ACT. She is also an Ambassador for the ACT Chief Minister’s Reading Challenge.


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


A life and love of words (and now a movie deal) for Stephanie Owen Reeder | HerCanberra

Lazaroo, Suzanne, ‘Words and Pictures: Building a World of Books,’ UnCover, University of Canberra: https://www.canberra.edu.au/uncover/news-archive/2019/december/words-and-pictures-building-a-world-of-books

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