Sophie Cunningham, Chair (VIC) 

Sophie Cunningham has worked in publishing for more than 25 years. She began her working life as an editor at McPhee Gribble Publishers where she had the opportunity to work with Drusilla Modjeska, Dorothy Hewett, Helen Garner, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Kaz Cooke, Kerry Greenwood and Steven Carroll.

When McPhee Gribble became part of Penguin books her role was publisher of McPhee Gribble/Penguin. Here Cunningham was responsible for the first publication of Richard Flanagan, Fiona McGregor and Timothy Conigrave (Holding the Man) amongst others.

Cunningham was Trade Publisher at Allen & Unwin Publishers for 10 years where she was responsible for writers including Dr Roberta Sykes, Ruby Langford, Dr Catherine Lumby, Dr Mark Davis, Dr McKenzie Wark and Paul Kelly (singer). At first her publishing was notable for the development of emerging fiction writers, and later for serious non-fiction engaging with and challenging the cultural issues of the day. She was a publisher, briefly, at Lonely Planet.

From 2008 – 2011 Cunningham was the editor of Australia’s second oldest literary journal, Meanjin Quarterly, 2008 – 2011. While in this position she co-founded (with Jeff Sparrow, Overland editor) the Meanland series of discussions on reading, publishing and writing in the digital age.

Cunningham has spoken and lectured at a range of institutions, conferences and festivals on these subjects around Australia, including the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Adelaide Festival of the Arts, Adelaide Film Festival, ASAL, Brisbane Writers Festival, Byron Bay Writers Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival, Melbourne University, Midsumma Festival, Monash University, National Library, Newcastle Young Writers’ Festival, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, State Library of NSW, State Library of Victoria, Sydney Writers’ Festival, University of Technology, Victoria University, Writers Victoria, Women In Publishing and the Wheeler Centre.

Her journalism, fiction and interviews have been published by a range of newspapers and magazines over the years including Griffith Review, Meanjin, The Age, Crikey, The Drum and The Monthly.

She is the author of Melbourne(2011), New South; Bird (2008), Text Publishing and Geography(2004) Text Publishing & Transworld (UK). Geography was shortlisted for the Best First Book category in the SE Asia & South Pacific Region of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

Cunningham is currently writing a book on Cyclone Tracy and the long term effect of disaster on people, culture and the environment, and a third novel, This Devastating Fever, about Leonard Woolf. Extracts from that work-in-progress have been published in Wordlines, Meanjin, and Best Australian Stories 2007.

Cunningham is the co-founder and chair of the Stella Prize, an organisation that aims to reward excellence in published women writers. Cunningham is also the director of the Faber Academy’s ‘How to Write a Novel’ Program in Melbourne.

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