Jackie French AM is an Australian author, historian, ecologist and honourary wombat (part time), 2014-2015 Australian Children' Laureate and 2015 Senior Australian of the Year.
Jackie was born in Sydney; grew up on the outskirts of Brisbane, and is still not dead. She has lived for more than 40 years at the top of the gorge in the Araluen Valley, where her ancestors lived too. Only one school she attended burned down. This was not her fault.
Some of Jackie’s books have sold millions of copies and won over 60 awards in Australia and internationally. Others were eaten by the wombats.
Instead of hobbies she has written over 200 books; built a house and power system; planted thousands of trees; harvests about 800 of them; lunches with friends; reads to her grandkids; tries to find her glasses; eats dark chocolates, what ever fruit is in season and the odd feral species. (Some are very odd). She coined the term ‘moral ominvore’ to describe her diet. There is a dispensation for dark chocolate.
Jackie has studied over 400 wombats, and been the (almost) obedient slave to a dozen of them. She is an enthusiastic cook, married to an enthusiastic eater. If you visit, do not bring cake. It is the duty of a guest to eat. Lots. Then eat some more. If you are worried about calories hike up the mountain and look for endangered species. But you will find more on a bush mooch than a bush walk. Watch out for the eight species of snake. Don’t worry. They’ll also be watching out for you.
Jackie writes for adults, young adults, and even younger humans, on history, ecology, and her award winning historical fiction for all age but write just one picture book about a wombat, and no one lets you forget it.
Ever. Ever. Ever.
Please do not mention Diary of a Wombat or the word ‘prolific’. Or the story of how her first book was accepted because a wombat had left its droppings on her typewriter, as after 25 years of repeating it she is bored.
Jackie is also dyslexic and patron of literacy programmes across Australia with a wide and deep - if accidental- experience in learning differences and methods, and their outcomes for students, as well as a passionate advocate for equal educational opportunity. She still can't spell. For even more information about Jackie, click here.
That stool was the fastest horse in the neighbourhood
At the National Library, November 2014.