Leaping into Waterfalls: The Enigmatic Gillian Mears

Bernadette Brennan

2022 Winner

Leaping into Waterfalls: The Enigmatic Gillian Mears book cover

Judges' Comments 

An intimate portrayal of the complicated life and premature death of Australian novelist and short story writer Gillian Mears. This brilliant and balanced biography details her rural childhood and deep emotional enmeshment with her three sisters, her prodigious and restless love life, her spiritual journeys, her writing process, her appalling treatment of friends and publishers, her soaring talent, and her inexorable descent into illness. From this impressively researched, intense account — replete with intimate psychological detail — Mears emerges as insecure, self-obsessed, self-dramatising, demanding, shy, ruthless, self-promoting, solitary, and yet with an ability to charm and draw people into an intense involvement in her life and writing. 



About the Author

photo of bernadette brennan

Bernadette Brennan is a critic and researcher of contemporary Australian writing. She is the author of a number of publications, including a monograph on Brian Castro and two edited collections: Just Words?: Australian Authors Writing for Justice (UQP 2008), and Ethical Investigations: Essays on Australian Literature and Poetics (Vagabond 2008). In 2017 she published her award-winning literary biography A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work (Text). Her most recent book, Leaping Into Waterfalls: The Enigmatic Gillian Mears (A&U 2021), was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Douglas Stewart award and won the prestigious Magarey Medal for Biography (2022). In November 2018 Bernadette was the recipient of the inaugural Fellowship for Non-Fiction awarded by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

Updated on 22 November 2022