27 September 1950
Author, Writer, Teacher, School Principal
Marsden was born in Melbourne, Australia but spent the first 10 years of his life living in the country towns of Kyneton, Victoria and Devonport, Tasmania. When he was 10 years old, Marsden moved to Sydney and attended The King's School, Parramatta. Following his time there, Marsden was accepted into Sydney University to study a double degree in Law and Arts, and attended university despite being confused about what he wanted to do. However, Marsden struggled during his time there, and due to a sense of alienation and loneliness deriving from family rifts, educational experiences, and simply disliking law, he dropped out.
After leaving University, Marsden became depressed, and attributes this depression in part to his inability to find a job that suited him. As his depression deteriorated into suicidal thoughts, Marsden began seeing a psychiatrist. His psychiatrist eventually admitted him to a psychiatric hospital following a diagnosis of depression.
Marsden credits his stint in the psychiatric hospital as an important period in his life: It actually was very, very helpful, very constructive and very useful. Because I started learning about feelings and relationships and communication, and the way the world really worked. Whereas I guess in the 1950s, at school especially, there was an emphasis on manners and appearances, and that seemed far more important than reality. So ever since, I've really distrusted appearance. I've been much more interested in reality and trying to get past that mask or that nice veneer and to find out what's really going on inside.—John MarsdenAfter his stint in hospital, Marsden continued to take on many different jobs, and through his 20s Marsden worked in as many as 32 different jobs, including an abattoir, working in a mortuary, delivering pizzas, working as a motorbike courier, working as s nightwatchman, selling encyclopaedias and working with chickens.
Following this period of drifting, Marsden decided, in 1978, to try a teaching career. Marsden claims to have always had an inkling that he may try teaching, and from the first day of his teaching course Marsden was confident that this was the career that suited him.
Whilst working at the prestigious Geelong Grammar School, Marsden made the decision to write for teenagers, following his dissatisfaction with his students' apathy towards reading, or the observation that teenagers simply weren't reading anymore. Marsden then wrote So Much To Tell You in only three weeks, and the book was published in 1987. The book was eagerly received by teenagers, sold record numbers and won numerous awards including "Book of the Year" as awarded by the Children's Book Council of Australia.
Following the publication of So Much To Tell You, Marsden claims that his life "took off". Marsden had five books published in the next five years, whilst working as a full-time teacher and before writing the first of the Tomorrow series.
Marsden's highest selling book, Tomorrow, When the War Began has sold between 2 and 3 millions of copies throughout the world, and has been reprinted 26 times in Australia alone. In 2000, the Swedish Government paid to have Tomorrow, When the War Began distributed to every child of appropriate age in the country after it was selected by their peers as the book reluctant readers would be most likely to enjoy.
Marsden went on to write seven books in the Tomorrow Series, together with a follow-up trilogy, The Ellie Chronicles despite originally intending for the entire series to only consist of a trilogy.
At the same time as writing the Tomorrow Series, Marsden wrote several other novels such as Checkers, edited works such as This I Believe, wrote children's picture books such as The Rabbits, poetry such as Prayer For The Twenty-First Century and non-fiction works such as Everything I Know About Writing and Secret Men's Business.
Marsden's earlier works are largely novels aimed at teenage or young adult audience. Common themes in Marsden's works include sexuality, violence in society, survival at school and in a harsh world, and conflict with adult authority figures. However, Marsden also has declared that he wishes to write about "things that have always been important for humans... [such as] love, for a start. And the absence of love. The way people relate to each other. The way people solve problems. Courage. Spirit. The human spirit."
Marsden has won every major writing award in Australia for young people’s fiction including what Marsden describes as one of the highlights of his career, the 2006 Lloyd O'Neil Award for contributions to Australian publishing. This award means that Marsden is one of only five authors to be honoured for lifelong services to the Australian book industry. John Marsden was also nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2008, the world's largest children's and youth literature award, and the second largest literature prize in the world.
Internationally, he has twice been named among Best Books of the Year by the American Library Association and once by Publishers’ Weekly (USA), has been runner-up for Dutch Children’s Book of the Year and short-listed for the German Young Readers’ Award, won the Grand Jury Prize as Austria’s Most Popular Writer for Teenagers, and won the coveted Buxtehuder Bulle in Germany. However, despite his number of awards, Marsden has said that he generally does not care about awards (with the exception of the Lloyd O'Neil Award and The Melbourne Prize for Literature).
In 1996, Marsden's books took the top six places on the Teenage Fiction best-seller lists for Australia. Also in 1996, he was named 'Australia's most popular author today in any literary field' by The Australian newspaper. In 1997 Australian readers voted three of his books into Australia's 100 most-loved books of all time.
Marsden began teaching at All Saints College (Bathurst, New South Wales), in 1978 while studying Arts at the University of New England. He continued to teach at All Saints while completing his Diploma of Teaching from Mitchell College. In 1982 Marsden became head of English at Geelong Grammar School, Highton, Victoria, and in 1984, Marsden began teaching at Timbertop, Geelong Grammar's 'bush' campus.
Following the publication of his first books, Marsden continued as a full-time teacher for some years, whilst continuing to write several books. However, following the success of his writing career, Marsden reluctantly left full-time teaching due to the growing list of invitations and commitments he had such as speaking at schools and libraries and other like places. Marsden also attributes leaving full-time teaching to his frustration with his perception of schools focus on control outweighing their focus on student welface.
In January 1998, Marsden purchased the Tye Estate, an 850 hectare natural bush property to the north of Melbourne, in the Hanging Rock area, which, with new additions now comprises 1100 hectares. For eight years Marsden ran writing camps at this property, attracting school groups from as far away as Indonesia, Singapore and Turkey.
The success of his writing camps inspired Marsden to go further and at the start of 2006 he launched his own school, Candlebark School. In terms of area, it is thought to be the largest school campus in the world.
Candlebark's numbers are deliberately kept small, in the interests of maintaining a warm and friendly atmosphere, and its philosophy is one of creative lively learning which is purposeful and challenging. The school has a four-year waiting list.
Marsden is the school's principal, but also maintains a full-time teaching load, as well as continuing his writing career.
Due to his commitment to his teaching career, Marsden has indicated that he may never return to writing full time and is not concerned if he does not start any new books. In fact, despite his writing success, Marsden prefers teaching to writing as he finds it "more satisfying, more creative, more adventurous, and something that will never lose its attraction".
|So Much To Tell You||1987||
|The Great Gatenby||1989|
|Staying Alive In Year 5||1990|
|Out Of Time||1990|
|Letters from the Inside||1991||
|Take My Word For It||1992|
|Looking For Trouble||1993|
|Everything I Know About Writing||1993|
|This I Believe||1996||
|For Weddings and a Funeral||1996||
|Prayer for the Twenty-First Century||1997|
|Secret Men's Business||1998|
|Marsden on Marsden||2000|
|The Head Book||2001|
|The Magic Rainforest||2002|
|A Day In The Life Of Me||2002||
|The Boy You Brought Home||2002|
|A Roomful of Magic||2004|
|Hamlet: A Novel||2008|
|Home and Away||2008|
|The Tomorrow series
Main article: Tomorrow series
|Tomorrow, When the War Began||1993||
|The Dead of The Night||1994|
|The Third Day, The Frost||1995|
|Darkness, Be My Friend||1996|
|Burning For Revenge||1997|
|The Night Is For Hunting||1998|
|The Other Side Of Dawn||1999|
|The Ellie Chronicles|
|While I live||2003|
|Circle of Flight||2006|
Information from Wikipedia