First Edition Co Kylie Tennant 1912 - 1988

Exploring the Works and Impact of the Renowned Australian Author Kylie Tennant

Kathleen Kylie Tennant AO (12 March 1912 – 28 February 1988) was an accomplished Australian novelist, playwright, short-story writer, critic, biographer, and historian. Born in Manly, New South Wales, Tennant was educated at Brighton College in Manly and Sydney University, though she left without graduating. Despite this, she went on to become one of Australia’s most influential and respected authors of the 20th century.

Tennant’s career was diverse, as she worked as a publicity officer for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, a journalist, union organiser, reviewer for The Sydney Morning Herald, a publisher’s literary adviser and editor, and a member of the Commonwealth Literary Fund advisory board. She married L. C. Rodd in 1933, and the couple had two children, a daughter named Benison and a son named John Laurence.

Known for her well-researched and realistic portrayals of the lives of the underprivileged in Australia, Tennant immersed herself in the experiences of those she wrote about. During the Depression years, she lived as an unemployed itinerant worker, traveled to Aboriginal communities, and even spent a short time in prison for research purposes. This dedication to authenticity and empathy is evident in her works, which offer a unique and compassionate perspective on Australian society.

Some of Tennant’s most notable works include the novels “The Battlers” (1941) and “Ride on Stranger” (1943), both of which have been adapted into television miniseries. “The Battlers” earned her the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal in 1942, and her children’s book “All the Proud Tribesmen” (1959) won the Children’s Book Council Book Award in 1960.

Throughout her career, Tennant received numerous accolades for her contributions to Australian literature. In 1935 and 1940, she was awarded the S. H. Prior Memorial Prize by The Bulletin magazine for her works “Tiburon” and “The Battlers,” respectively. In 1980, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for her services to literature.

Kylie Tennant’s legacy extends beyond her literary achievements. “Kylie’s Hut,” the author’s retreat in Crowdy Bay, served as a testament to her dedication to her craft until it was tragically destroyed during the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season. Today, two streets in Australia are named in her honor: Kylie Tennant Street in Franklin, ACT, and Kylie Tennant Close in Glenmore Park, NSW.

As an author, Tennant’s works continue to inspire and engage readers, offering a glimpse into the lives of those often overlooked in society. Her commitment to social justice, equality, and the power of storytelling has solidified her place as one of Australia’s most cherished and influential literary figures.



  • Tiburon (1935. Sydney: Endeavour Press) — first published in serial form in The Bulletin
  • Foveaux (1939. London: Gollancz; 1946. Sydney: Sirius)
  • The Battlers (1941. London: Gollancz; New York: Macmillan; 1945. Sydney: Sirius)
  • Time Enough Later (c.1942. New York: Macmillan; 1945. London: Macmillan). A humorous coming of age story about a young woman and her relationship with an artistic older man.
  • Ride on Stranger (1943. New York: Macmillan; London: Gollancz; Sydney: Angus & Robertson)
  • Lost Haven (1946. NY: Macmillan; Melbourne: Macmillan; London: Macmillan)
  • The Joyful Condemned (1953. London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press)
  • The Honey Flow (1956. London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press)
  • Tell Morning This (1967. Sydney: Angus & Robertson) — complete version of The Joyful Condemned
  • The Man on the Headland (1971. Sydney: Angus & Robertson)
  • Tantavallon (1983. Melbourne: Macmillan) ISBN 0-947072-02-0

Short Stories

  • Ma Jones and Little White Cannibals (1967. London)

Children’s Books

  • Long John Silver (1954. Sydney: Associated General Publications) — adapted from the screenplay by Martin Rackin
  • All the Proud Tribesmen (1959. London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press; 1960. Melbourne: Macmillan) — illustrated by Clem Seale. Children’s Book Award (1960)
  • Come and See: social studies for Third Grade (1960. Melbourne: Macmillan)
  • We Find the Way: social studies for Fourth Grade (1960. Melbourne: Macmillan)
  • Trail Blazers of the Air (1965. Melbourne: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press) — illustrated by Roderick Shaw


  • Modern Plays for Schools 3 (John o’ the Forest, Lady Dorothy and the Pirates, The Willow Pattern Plate, The Laughing Girl, Christmas at the Old Shamrock Hotel) (1950. London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press)
  • Tether a Dragon (1952. Sydney: Associated General Publications) — Commonwealth Jubilee Stage Play Prize
  • Modern Plays for Schools 15 (The Bells of the City, The Magic Fat Baby, The Prince Who Met a Dragon, The Ghost Tiger, Hamaguchi Goh Ei) (1955. London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press)
  • The Bushrangers’ Christmas Eve and other plays (The Tribe of the Honey Tree, The Ladies of the Guard, A Nativity Play, The Play of the Younger Son, The Emperor and the Nightingale) (1959. London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press)
  • Nex’ Town (1957) – book for musical

Biography and History

  • Australia: Her Story (1953. London: Macmillan; New York: St Martin’s Press)
  • Speak You So Gently: Lives among the Australian Aborigines (1959. London: Gollancz) — about the Rev Alf Clint
  • Evatt: Politics and justice (1970. Sydney: Angus & Robertson)
  • The Missing Heir (1986. Melbourne: Macmillan) — her autobiography


  • The Development of the Australian Novel (1958. Canberra: CLF)
  • The Australian Essay (1968. Melbourne: Cheshire) — co-authored with L.C. Rodd

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