ROMSEY resident and one of Australia’s most famous living authors John Marsden has received his first honorary university award.
Mr Marsden, 70, best known for his Tomorrow, When the War Began novel series, was introduced as an Honorary Doctor of the University of Sunshine Coast Australia at a graduation ceremony last weekend.
The award recognised Mr Marsden’s outstanding contribution to Australian literature and to education as the founder and principal at Romsey’s Candlebark School, which he launched in 2006, and now carries waiting lists for each year level.
His 1993 young adult series has become a mainstay in schools in Australia and beyond, and has been adapted into a 2010 film and a 2016 Netflix TV series, filmed in Melbourne.
He has won many awards for his more than 40 literary works, including the 2018 Dromkeen Medal, and being named twice in the American Library Association’s Best Books of the Year.
University Chancellor Sir Angus Houston said Mr Marsden’s career had demonstrated excellence in creative writing, particularly for young people who struggle to find footing.
“His persistence throughout life, despite obstacles in his own youth, and his achievements in Australia and on the world stage make John Marsden a worthy recipient of Doctor of the University,” he said.
At the ceremony Mr Marsden said his gratitude for the honour had ‘personal origins’.
“Like many a young person, I went from school to university in a rush, with a naive and ill-formed understanding of what I would encounter,” he said.
“As a result, I stumbled around for several years before abandoning my attempts at tertiary study, and only became successful at an undergraduate career at the age of 30.
“By that stage of my life, I relished learning, loved the subjects, and read the texts avidly.”
Mr Marsden said his young adult novels were originally not taken seriously, and were ‘brushed aside by reviewers, critics and even other authors’.
“In the same way that western society regarded adolescents as irrelevant and irreverent,” he said.
“To me, the conferral of the honorary doctorate by the University of the Sunshine Coast is an acknowledgement by this distinguished body that such areas as the schooling of young people and the writing of fiction for young people do matter, that these are not inconsequential affairs.”
Mr Marsden’s upcoming non-fiction book, Take Risks, will explore parenting and educating.