Vale Dr Maurice Saxby AM – Children’s Literature Champion

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Dr Maurice Saxby AM. Our friend Maurie passed away yesterday.  He was a great champion of children’s literature, serving twice on the Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury of The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and was the first life member of IBBY Australia.  He was the first National President of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) and remained associated with the CBCA for more than 60 years. He was Patron of the Aora Children’s Literature Research Centre NSW Inc.

Maurie was honoured with many awards in his lifetime including among them Member in the Order of Australia (AM); the Pixie O’Harris award for distinguished service to children’s books by the Children’s Publishing Committee of the Australian Publishers’ Association; a Doctor of Letters from the University of Sydney for his unwavering dedication to Australian children’s literature; life membership of the Primary English Teaching Association Australia for his influence and contribution to the teaching of English in Australia; the Lady Cutler Award for Distinguished Service to Children’s Literature in New South Wales from the CBCA NSW; a Citation and the Nan Chauncy Award from the CBCA and the Dromkeen Medal.

Patricia Wrightson

A recent event of great impact on IBBY Australia was the death of Patricia Wrightson on 15th March. While her passing has been deservedly noticed in the general press and within the literary community, it is significant for us as she was the recipient in 1986 of the Hans Christian Andersen medal. This is awarded every two years by IBBY and judged on the writer’s entire output by a jury of international experts. Only two Australians have ever been honoured in this way, Patricia for writing and Robert Ingpen for illustration. Patricia Wrightson contributed greatly to the development of children’s literature in Australia, as she pioneered the integration of characters and stories from indigenous tradition into novels for contemporary readers. Her Nargun and the Stars became a favourite for many, and the Wirrun trilogy is a major achievement.