The perfect author bio

Clunes is an eccentric town in Victoria – in the heart of the goldfields. I spent Saturday wandering around their leafy streets, enjoying their annual ‘Back To Booktown’ event. I loved the quiet intensity of a town full of books and readers. There were serious bookworms everywhere, lugging around shopping bags full of book booty. There were even those who cleverly came equipped with trolleys so they could manage their weighty hauls.

I was very modest in my purchases and mostly enjoyed browsing. But I couldn’t resist buying a biography of the poet Alexander Pope by Edith Sitwell. (The image is of its back cover).

Both Pope and Sitwell were very eccentric characters so she is definitely the appropriate person to write his biography. As much as I’ve enjoyed (and puzzled over) both Pope and Sitwell’s poetry, I’m ashamed to admit that what really inspired me to buy the book was its cover – specifically Sitwell’s author bio. In case you find the print too small, it reads “She was educated privately and her principal recreation are reading and thinking about poetry, listening to music and silence.”

Authors are often asked to submit short bios for book covers, festivals and public appearances. I always find it a cringeworthy exercise. It is so hard to summarise yourself, your life, your history, your interests and ideas in less than 150 words (try it and discover the cringe factor). I love Sitwell’s neat encapsulation of her passions and their straightforward simplicity. I’d love to plagarise it: “Murray was educated in government schools and her principal recreation are reading and thinking about fiction, listening to music and silence… How beautifully simple and to the point!

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Every adult was once a child and the child inside them never completely disappears.”

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