Kate Grenville is one of Australia's most widely read writers. Born in Sydney in 1950, Grenville grew up in a house filled with books. Inspired by her father's gift for storytelling, she knew as a child that she wanted to be a writer. She majored in English Literature at the University of Sydney, primarily because it gave her the opportunity to read all day. After graduation, Grenville worked at Film Australia for five years before spending time in London and Paris.
Grenville wrote her first novel, which she calls unpublishable, while in Europe. After meeting several American writers in Paris, Grenville decided to pursue an M.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Grenville has stated that the writing program at the University of Colorado encouraged her to adopt a more adventurous writing style.
Upon her return to Australia, Grenville published her first literary work in 1984, a collection of short stories entitled The Bearded Ladies. Her first novel, Lilian's Story, garnered critical attention. The Idea of Perfection won the Orange Prize in 1999. Grenville has published nine novels, several of which, like The Secret River, explore Australia's past. Two of her novels - Lillian's Story and Dreamhouse - have been made into films.
Grenville has also written several books about the creative writing process that are used in writing programs at universities in Australia and abroad. In 2010, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of New South Wales. She is a highly sought after public speaker and gives several lectures a year.
Grenville is actively involved in the Indigenous Literacy Project, which advocates for greater literacy in English within isolated indigenous communities. The ILP raises money to buy and ship books to indigenous communities in an effort to increase their exposure to written English. The program is designed to improve the indigenous peoples' socioeconomic status in Australia.
She is married to Bruce Petty, a political cartoonist, with whom she has two children.