After She Left

2019, Impact Press.

Deirdre O’Mara, a young Irish woman, arrives in Sydney’s The Rocks in 1927 and makes an impact on conservative society with her bohemian ways and surrealistic paintings. Just after the Second World War, Dierdre leaves for Europe, leaving behind her estranged daughter and a family secret.

Years later, her granddaughter Keira is determined to uncover the secret, despite her mother’s objections. She uncovers more than she bargained for.

‘Immensely enjoyable’ – Bookseller + Publisher May 2019.

‘Hanley is a talented writer … empathetic and engaging … strong and elegant’ – Lip Magazine May 2019.

Inspiring Australians: The First Fifty Years of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust

2015, Melbourne, Australian Scholarly Publishing.

The Churchill Trust has now awarded over 4,000 travelling Fellowships to men and women in a vast variety of fields, enabling them to return and enrich their Australian communities with what they have learned overseas. This book outlines a history of the Trust and covers the adventures of some Churchill Fellows over five decades in fields as diverse as health, farming, zoos, ballet dancing and furniture making. Browse the Contents page.   Read an extract.   Available from  the bookshop.

Women in Politics: Showing the Way (collaborative authorship)

2010, Canberra: Australian Local Government Association.

The Australian Local Government Association produced [this] booklet to encourage greater participation of women in political life in all levels of government. The publication tells the stories of outstanding women, to inspire other women to follow in their footsteps. The Governor-General, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, AC, has lent her support by contributing the Foreword to the book. The book also includes a historical overview of women in politics, a review of what is happening across Australia at local government level and profiles of women such as Premier Kristina Keneally, the Hon Tanya Plibersek, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Councillor Rose Jackson and Indigenous Councillor Joyce Crombie.  (From the National Library of Australia online catalogue).

Creative Lives: Personal Papers of Australian Writers and Artists

2009, Canberra: National Library of Australia.

The papers of many well-known Australian literary figures are held in the Manuscripts Collection of the National Library of Australia. Creative Lives brings together some of their stories in a book generously illustrated with personal photographs, sketches and paintings, diaries and drafts, and cards and letters - neatly typed or scrawled and claret-stained. Through her travels among the papers of 22 authors, Penelope Hanley deepens our insights into their creative lives - their feelings and foibles, their fears and triumphs. Read about convict James Tucker's gruesome floggings, Henry Lawson's sporadic imprisonment and alcoholism, and how Judy Cassab outwitted the Nazis. Was Christina Stead really 'all genius and no talent'? Why did Eric Rolls turn down the opportunity to make a killing on the stock market? Find out the answers to these questions and discover much more about the famous Australians in Creative Lives. (From the National Library of Australia online bookshop.)

Reviews and articles about Creative Lives

  • 'Penelope Hanley's Creative Lives is a lavish production highlighting the pleasures available for the researcher in the manuscripts collection of the National Library of Australia.'  Australian Literary Review, June 2010.
  • 'Each of Hanley's chapters adroitly mixes a concise summary of its subject's achievements with some key or quirky episodes drawn from the manuscripts at the National Library.'  Australian Book Review, May 2010.
  • 'What Hanley exquisitely executes is the balance between the generous and beautifully presented photographs, sketches, letters and pages of hand-written manuscript, and her own lively retelling of the writer's personal stories.' Bookseller+Publisher Oct/Nov 2009.
  • '... if Creative Lives detours along some dark pathways, it is more intent on celebrating the light. It underlines the communality that exists among Australian writers ...' The Canberra Times, Panorama, December 2009.

Full House

1993, Sydney: Simon & Schuster.

A comedy of manners set in contemporary Canberra featuring Holly Baker, film reviewer and artists' model. A zany, energetically funny novel, Full House is about relationships and the pursuit of happiness.  Full House is a curious and fascinating read — a young, fresh and sunny book.

Reviews and articles about Full House:

  • "A light and lively novel..." New Woman, September 1993.
  • "A paean to Canberra, it is an upbeat, urban love story..." ANU Reporter July 1993.
  • "Art imitating life? Well, yes, but only up to a point." Sunday Telegraph June 1993.
  • "Full House is full of ideas, energetic, contemporary..." Canberra Times, May 1993.