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Susan Hampton (1949 – )

Susan Hampton, 1981, photo by John Tranter (r18-8) Susan Hampton, 1981, photo by John Tranter (r18-8)

Susan Hampton was born in 1949 at Inverell, in the Northern Tablelands region of New South Wales. She admits to having had little interest in school as a child, but ultimately trained as a teacher, graduating from Newcastle Teacher's College in 1967, before going on to further tertiary study at the University of Newcastle, Macquarie University, and the University of Sydney. She married briefly in the early 1970s and had a son; after her marriage ended she raised her son on her own. From 1981-2000, she taught writing, literature, drama and journalism at various universities, and held writer-in-residence positions at a number of tertiary institutions, including the University of Wollongong, the University of New England, Darwin University, the University of Canberra, the Australian Defence Force Academy, and the Australian National University. Since 1993 she has lived in Canberra, where she now works principally as a freelance editor.

Hampton began publishing poetry from the mid-1970s. She contributed a selection of poems, 'Siren Songs for Beginners,' to the anthology Sisters Poets, 1 (1979) - which was edited by Rosemary Dobson, and also included the work of Kate Llewellyn, Joyce Lee, and Anne Lloyd - before publishing her first collection of poems and short stories, Costumes, in 1981. With Kate Llewellyn, Hampton edited a major anthology, The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets (1986), and followed this with two publications of her own work: a sonnet sequence, White Dog Sonnets: A Novel (1987), and a second collection of poetry and prose, Surly Girls (1989). She has published three further poetry collections, A Latin Primer (1998), The Kindly Ones (2005) - winner of the ACT Judith Wright award, and News of the Insect World: And Other Poems (2009). Her poetry is noted for exploring a wide range of themes and styles, expressed with a consistent wit and sensitivity.

Poetry Collections

Costumes: Poems and Prose
(Chippendale, NSW: Transit Poetry and Wild and Woolley, 1981).

White Dog Sonnets: A Novel
(Surry Hills, NSW: Fab Press, 1987).

Surly Girls (Sydney: Collins, 1989).

A Latin Primer (Markwell, NSW: Cerebus Press, 1998).

The Kindly Ones (Carlton, Vic: Five Islands Press, 2005).

News of the Insect World: and other poems (Parkville, Vic: Five Islands Press, 2009).

Suggested Further Reading

Anna Couani, 'Women in the Literary Small Press,' in Sneja Gunew and Anna Couani, eds., Telling Ways: Australian Women's Experimental Writing (Adelaide: Australian Feminist
Studies, 1988), pp. 9-14.

Barbara Giles, 'Where to Now? Recent Poetry by Women,' Fine Line no.4 (1988), pp. 82-87.

Kristen Lang, 'Rippling the Surface,' Southerly 65.3 (2005), pp. 225-29.

Chris Mansell, 'Susan Hampton,' Scarp no.13 (1988), pp. 6-18.

Nicole Mauro, review of The Kindly Ones, Jacket 29 (2006), online,

Geoff Page, 'Susan Hampton,' A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1995).

Evelyn Swinnerton, 'Interview with Susan Hampton,' Redoubt no.17 (1993), p. 26.