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June 2005 Issue
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Anne's perfect strands: knitting and writing

 Creative Writing

Anne Bartlett was optimistic for a small local print run for her first adult novel but it seems everyone wants to get into Knitting.

Anne's novel Knitting was published in Australia in March by Penguin, and released two weeks later in the US by Houghton Mifflin. It will be published in the UK by Penguin early next year.

The work forms the creative writing component of her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide. A mentorship with Sydney writer Nicholas Jose during her studies was the stepping-stone to international publishing.

"It was through him that I met editor Bob Wyatt in New York, who in turn introduced me to agent Joy Harris," Anne said.
"It has been quite overwhelming. At the most, I had hoped for a small Australian print run," she said.

Anne knows about the persistence required to bring manuscripts into print. Her first "serious fiction" was written thirty years ago and Knitting is her first adult novel.

She said it was "a surreal experience" when she moved to the negotiation stage with publishers. The author recently travelled to the United States to meet with editors and her agent.
Anne also said she found it "quite strange" when she first saw the finished novel.

"Words that had been inside my head were there in a book at the Adelaide Airport," she said.

On the morning she spoke to the Adelaidean, Anne had already given five radio interviews and several newspaper interviews. She was also invited to attend the Sydney Writers Festival in the last week of May.

Knitting is story of two women, both widows, who meet by chance and the impact they have on each other's lives and grieving processes.

Anne said the book was a case of "writing about what you know".

"I come from a family of knitting women and have knitted since I was a child. I knitted one-off garments at home for a designer when my children were small," she said. "And I always had an interest in grief and grieving."

"The novel is superficially about knitting but knitting is also a metaphor for being knitted back together, particularly after a period of grief."

Despite being tagged as a women's fiction offering, the novel's universal messages are appealing to a wider audience and men have also enjoyed it, she said.

Anne, who has "always written", has published non-fiction books for children's education, had her own magazine column and undertaken freelance editing.

She completed a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Adelaide in 1998 and, during that time, was co-editor of the university's first Creative Writing anthology, Iron Lace.

Several of Anne's notable works relate to Australia's indigenous population, including her non-fiction children's book on Aboriginal history and culture, The Aboriginal People's of Australia, which was published in Singapore and the United States as part of a First People's Series in 2001.

Commissions from State Aboriginal Affairs in 1999 lead to her assisting with the publication of The Chairman (Australian Scholarly Publishing) in 2004. The Chairman is the autobiography of Ngarrindjeri elder Garnett Wilson, who was a foundation member of the Aboriginal Lands Trust and then chair for over twenty years.

Anne lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband, Russell and they have four grown-up children.

Knitting is published by Penguin with a RRP of $22.95

Story by Lisa Toole

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Anne Bartlett
Photo by Ben Osborne

Anne Bartlett
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<i>Knitting</i> by Anne Bartlett

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