Literary Festival “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives”

24 October 2023

Literary Festival “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives”

Sydney Grammar School will be hosting its annual Literary Festival: “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives”. In celebrating literature and writing, a number of exciting events and programmes are planned for pupils, parents and the wider Grammar community to attend and take part in.

Writer-In-Residence: James Bradley OAM

This year, we are privileged to have James Bradley OAM joining us for Terms III and IV as our Writer-In-Residence. Working with the Sydney Grammar School Creative Writing Collective, while also developing his own current project, James has already brought much vitality to the School writing community. 

James Bradley OAM is an Australian author who transitioned from law to writing and has seven novels and a poetry collection to his credit. He’s noted for editing anthologies, contributing as a critic, and winning the 2012 Pascall Prize for Criticism, earning the title as Australian Critic of the Year. His novels, including WrackThe Deep Field, and Clade, tackled various subjects from historical mysteries to climate change impacts and has won and been nominated for numerous awards, including The Age Fiction Book of the Year. Notably, in 2021, he was honored with the Medal of the Order of Australia for his exceptional contribution to literature.

Humanities and Jobs for the Future

When: Wednesday 1 November
Time: 6:30pm
Where: Alastair Mackerras Theatre

RSVP here.

Robert McLean AM and Sophie Gee provide insight into the nature of the future jobs market, challenging the idea that the humanities are fading in significance.

They will explore the qualities that elevate individuals in the spheres of innovation and critical thinking and connect these to the pupils’ own interests in the humanities.

Robert McLean AM graduated with first-class honours in Economic Statistics from the University of New England and was a Fulbright Scholar at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. In 2011 he became a Member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to social welfare, conservation and business. Rob is on the board of the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

Sophie Gee is a professor of English at Princeton University. She has published widely in eighteenth-century literary history. She holds a first-class honours degree (English) from the University of Sydney and received a Menzies Scholarship to do a PhD at Harvard. Sophie has written for The New York Times, The Times Literary SupplementThe Financial TimesThe Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Literary Writing Workshop

When: Tuesday 14 November
Time: 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Where: AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson Library 

Grammar parents can purchase tickets here

We warmly invite parents to participate in a workshop of creative exploration, led by our Writer-In-Residence, James Bradley OAM. No prior experience is required. It is a social gathering, bringing parents together to explore diverse writing techniques. It provides a glimpse into the skills taught to our boys and practiced by professional authors.

State Library Literary Salon

When: Thursday 16 November
Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Where: The State Library of NSW (Gallery room and surrounding exhibition spaces)

By invitation only

Join us for a night at the State Library of NSW where pupils and parents come together for an intimate celebration of literature and creative inspiration. Limited tickets available. Hosted by Writer-In-Residence, James Bradley OAM, the night will see readings from the Sydney Grammar School Creative Writing Collective based upon their immersive excursions made to the State Library collections earlier this year. Interacting with the exhibits that inspired the writing, as well as making use of the stunning Gallery Room for drinks and canapés, the event should prove to be a joyous celebration of literature and the community it builds.

Literary Lunchtimes

Across the course of the week starting 4 November, pupils will have the opportunity to head to the Library at lunchtimes and listen to a range of experienced and renowned authors and mentors providing insight into their craft, the life of a writer and what it takes to turn ideas into works of published fiction. 

All talks will be held in the AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson Library

Presenter: Sophie Gee
When: Tuesday 14 November  
Time: 12:55pm – 1:25pm

Sophie Gee is a professor of English at Princeton University. She has published widely in eighteenth-century literary history. She holds a first-class honours degree (English) from the University of Sydney and received a Menzies Scholarship to do a PhD at Harvard. Sophie has written for The New York Times, The Times Literary SupplementThe Financial TimesThe Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Presenter: Matthew Lin 
When: Thursday 16 November  
Time: 12:55pm – 1:25pm

Matthew Lin is a Manga artist and more. An accomplished illustrator and graphic designer, Matt has turned his love of books, illustration, typography and toys into his profession, having illustrated and or designed books/magazines for countless publications and authors. Matt especially likes to scribble in blue pen and working in traditional mediums as well as digital.

Presenter: Lev Grossman
When: Friday 17 November  
Time: 1:05pm – 1:40pm

Lev Grossman is one of the world’s preeminent fantasy writers. Having received acclaim and best-selling status for his work The Magicians (and the accompanying The Magician King and The Magician’s Land), Lev has cemented his status as a vital voice in literary fantasy and brings his wealth of knowledge of writing to the School. Alongside authoring other children’s novels (The Silver ArrowThe Golden Swift), Lev is a noted journalist, having written for Vanity FairThe Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many others. 

Sydney Grammar School’s Literary Night

When: Wednesday 22 November 
Time: 6:30 – 8:30pm
Where: Alastair Mackerras Theatre

Authors: Markus Zusak and Pip Williams (hosted by Cassie McCullagh)

Book tickets here.

A night of literature, ideas and great conversation, the Literary Night returns for its second year, following the brilliant event of last year with Anna Funder (whose current work Wifedom is earning fine critical acclaim) and Thomas Keneally. This year, we are thrilled to announce the internationally best-selling authors Markus Zusak (The Book ThiefThe Messenger) and Pip Williams (The Dictionary of Lost WordsThe Bookbinder of Jericho) will appear in conversation with Radio National star Cassie McCullagh to discuss their much-admired works, their writing process and their experiences of living the life of a writer. 

Markus Zusak is one of Australia’s most celebrated and best-selling authors. Since his debut with The Underdog in 1999, Zusak has released six works of literary fiction, culminating in the international best sellers, The MessengerThe Book Thief and Bridge of Clay. In 2013, The Book Thief was made into a major motion picture, and in 2018 was voted one of America's all-time favourite books, achieving 14th position on the PBS Great American Read. This year, The Messenger was adapted into a drama series for ABC TV. 

Pip Williams is a literary sensation, having achieved critical acclaim and best-selling status with her novels. She has spent most of her working life as a social researcher, studying what keeps us well and what helps us thrive, and she is the author of One Italian Summer, a memoir of her family’s travels in search of the good life, which was published by Affirm Press to wide acclaim. Her first novel, The Dictionary of Lost Words, based on her original research in the Oxford English Dictionary archives, was published in 2020 and became an international bestseller. Its much-anticipated companion novel, The Bookbinder of Jericho, became an instant number one bestseller when it was published in April 2023.