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Sonya Louise Hartnett (born 23 February 1968 in Box Hill, Victoria)[1] is an Australian author of fiction for adults, young adults, and children. She has been called "the finest Australian writer of her generation".[2] For her career contribution to "children's and young adult literature in the broadest sense" Hartnett won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from the Swedish Arts Council in 2008, the biggest prize in children's literature.[3][4]

Sonya Hartnett
Born (1968-02-23) 23 February 1968 (age 51)
Box Hill, Victoria, Australia
Pen nameCameron S. Redfern
GenreNovels, especially young adult fiction; children's picture books
Notable awardsGuardian Prize
Astrid Lindgren Award

She has published books as Sonya Hartnett, S. L. Hartnett, and Cameron S. Redfern.[1][5]


She was thirteen years old when she wrote her first novel and fifteen when it was published for the adult market in Australia, Trouble All the Way (Adelaide: Rigby Publishers, 1984).[6][7] For years she has written about one novel annually.[5] Although she is often classified as a writer of young adult fiction, Hartnett does not consider this label entirely accurate: "I've been perceived as a young adult writer whereas my books have never really been young adult novels in the sort of classic sense of the idea." She believes the distinction is not so important in Britain as in native land.[8]

According to the National Library of Australia, "The novel for which Hartnett has achieved the most critical (and controversial) acclaim was Sleeping Dogs" (1995). "A book involving incest between brother and sister and often critiqued as 'without hope', Sleeping Dogs generated enormous discussion both within Australia and overseas."[1]

Many of Hartnett's books have been published in the UK and in North America. For Thursday's Child (2000, UK 2002), she won the annual Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children's writers.[9][10] In 2008 she won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award which is administered by the Swedish Arts Council.[11]

Landscape with Animals controversyEdit

In 2006, Hartnett was involved with some controversy regarding the publication of Landscape with Animals, published under the pseudonym Cameron S. Redfern. The book contains many sex scenes and Hartnett was almost immediately "outed" as the author. She said that she wanted to avoid the book being accidentally shelved with her work for children in libraries and denied that she used a pseudonym to evade responsibility for the work or as a publicity stunt à la Nikki Gemmell's The Bride Stripped Bare.[12] In a review published in The Age, Peter Craven savaged the book describing it as an "overblown little sex shocker", a "tawdry little crotch tickler" and lamented that Hartnett was "too good a writer to put her name to this indigestible hairball of spunk and spite".[2] It was defended vigorously in The Australian by Marion Halligan ("I haven't read many books by Hartnett, but I think this is a much more amazing piece of writing than any of them") who chastised Craven for missing the joke ("How could an experienced critic get that so wrong?") and wonders why female authors writing frankly about sex is so frowned upon.[13]



Picture booksEdit

  • The Boy and the Toy (2010)
  • Come Down, Cat! (2011)

Junior fictionEdit

Teen and young adult fictionEdit

Adult fictionEdit

  • Trouble All the Way (1984)
  • Sparkle and Nightflower (1986)
  • The Glass House (1990)
  • Black Foxes (1996)
  • Earls, Nick, Sonya Hartnett and Heide Seaman (1998). There must be lions : stories about mental illness. Charnwood, A.C.T.: Ginninderra Press.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  • Of a Boy (adult, 2002) (first published in the UK as What the Birds See in 2003)
  • Landscape with Animals (2006), as by Cameron S. Redfern
  • Golden Boys (2014)


  • Life in Ten Houses: A Memoir (2013)

Critical studies and reviews of Hartnett's workEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c (National Library of Australia identity file)[permanent dead link]. Virtual International Authority File (VIAF). Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  2. ^ a b Peter Craven (20 May 2006). "Landscape with Animals" (review). The Age.
  3. ^ "2008: Sonya Hartnett: A Concealed Yet Palpable Anger" Archived 19 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  4. ^ Ray Cassin (14 March 2008). "Hartnett wins top prize for children's literature". The Sydney Morning Herald ( Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Hartnett, Sonya (a.k.a. Hartnett, S. L.)". Austlit Agent Details. Retrieved 28 August 2007. (subscription required for full access)
  6. ^ It has been classified as Juvenile Fiction by some libraries. Trouble All the Way in libraries (WorldCat catalog). Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  7. ^ Eccleshare, Julia (12 October 2002). "Dig a little deeper". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Sonya Hartnett: London, 2002" (interview, part 1 of 5). ACHUKA ( 2002.
  9. ^ a b The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2002 (top page). Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Guardian children's fiction prize relaunched: Entry details and list of past winners". 12 March 2001. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  11. ^ "A Sense of Empathy and Involvement - ALMA". Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  12. ^ Sonya Hartnett (28 May 2006). "Faking It". The Age.
  13. ^ Marion Halligan (24 June 2006). "Sex and the singular woman". The Australian.[dead link] Quoted in Middlemiss, Weekend Round-Up, June 2006
  14. ^ "Sonya Hartnett". Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  15. ^ "The Silver Donkey". Reading Australia. Retrieved 16 January 2019.

External linksEdit