Celebrating the works of Australian author Gillian Mears

A selection of Gillian Mears’ novels and short stories in the State Library of NSW collection

A selection of Gillian Mears’ novels and short stories in the State Library of NSW collection

The Library is saddened to learn of the passing of Gillian Mears (1964-2016), a distinguished Australian author.  

Mears was born in Lismore in 1964 and lived most of her life in and around Grafton in northern NSW. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Communications) at the University of Technology, Sydney in 1985. Mears received critical acclaim for her work from her early twenties, with her first book, Ride a Cock Horse (1988), a short story collection, winning the 1989 Commonwealth Writers Prize. Her first novel, The Mint Lawn (1991), won the 1990 Australian/Vogel National Literary Award for best unpublished manuscript. Her second novel, The Grass Sister (1995), won a Commonwealth Writer’s prize, and A Map of the Gardens (2002) won the 2003 Steele Rudd Australian Short Story Award.

Mears lived with multiple sclerosis from the age of 30, yet continued to write even as her health declined. Her novel Foal’s Bread won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for fiction in 2012, and her final book, an illustrated children’s story The Cat with the Coloured Tail, was published in September 2015.

Richard Neville, Mitchell Librarian and Director, Education and Scholarship Division, writes ‘Mears was a candid and unsentimental writer; both a great technician and story-teller. Her books, particularly her early novels, are very much of their time, but also enduring in their honesty and power. Foal's Bread, her last novel, seemed to be a summary of her own life, her disease, her country background, and her refusal to accept the boundaries of society. Her insights and her stories will be missed.’

In addition to copies of each of Mears’ books, the Library holds the original manuscripts for a number of her publications as well as her correspondence, notebooks and university assignments – a wonderfully rich record of her life as an author, and as a lover, friend and family member.