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Helen Garner: A Life in Literature


Event Status

Celebrate Helen Garner’s 80th birthday with a far-reaching discussion about life, literature, love and the enduring importance of words.


To mark one of Australia’s greatest literary figures turning 80, we’re hosting a celebratory in-conversation event chronicling Helen Garner’s life and career.

Helen Garner is an iconic Australian figure. Her vast body of work – from non-fiction to fiction and her diaries – has held a significant place in the Australian cultural psyche for decades, earning a legion of dedicated fans at home and abroad.

Hosted by beloved Australian actor Virginia Gay, this is your chance to hear a literary great in conversation with none other than super-fan Annabel Crabb, alongside an introduction by Miles Franklin Award-winning author Jennifer Down.

Celebrate Helen Garner’s 80th birthday with a far-reaching discussion about life, literature, love and the enduring importance of words.

This event will be photographed and recorded for use by the Wheeler Centre. The bookseller for this event is Readings.


Auslan Interpreted

Wheelchair accessible

Accessible toilets available

You can learn more about the Wheeler Centre’s accessibility policies here. Please notify us of all access requirements when booking online so we can assist you with your visit. If you require further information, please contact reception on 03 9094 7800 or

About Spring Fling

Celebrating rebirth, renewal and rejuvenation, Spring Fling is a short series of big ideas offering a delectable picnic spread of literary experiences with leading thinkers, writers and creators from Australia and abroad.

Spring Fling is supported by the Melbourne City Revitalisation Fund, a Victorian Government and City of Melbourne partnership.



Helen Garner

Helen Garner writes novels, stories, screenplays and works of non-fiction. In 2006 she received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature, and in 2016 she won the prestigious Windham–Campbell Literature Prize for non-fiction and the Western Australian Premier’s Book Award. In 2019 she was hon... Read more

Jennifer Down

Jennifer Down is a writer and editor. Her debut novel, Our Magic Hour, was shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. The story collection Pulse Points won the 2018 Readings Prize and the 2018 Steele Rudd Award in the Queensland Literary Awards. ... Read more

Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb is a South Australian-born writer and television presenter who as a university student paid full price for Cosmo Cosmolino in 1992, breaking a solid habit of waiting for new books to arrive at the library. She completed a law degree but never became a lawyer. Annabel has been a journal... Read more

Virginia Gay

Virginia Gay graduated WAAPA, then spent four years pretending to be a nurse on All Saints, six months pretending to be cop on Savage River (ABC), and then five years on Winners & Losers, where she pretended to know a lot about high finance. That last one, particularly, was a stretch. She won a ... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.