Some questions about sex and power in this controversial book about a 1992 sexual harassment scandal at the University of Melbourne
In the autumn of 1992, two young women students at Melbourne University went to the police claiming that they had been indecently assaulted at a party. The man they accused was the head of their co-ed residential college. The shock of these charges split the community and painfully focused the debate about sex and power.
‘This is writing of great boldness and it will wring the heart… an intense, eloquent and enthralling work…’– AUSTRALIAN
‘This was never going to be an easy book to write, its pages are bathed in anguish and self-doubt, but suffused also with a white-hot anger…’–GOOD WEEKEND
‘Travelling with Garner along the complex paths of this sad story is, strangely enough, enjoyable. The First Stone [is] a book worth reading for its writing…’–SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
‘… Garner has ensured one thing: the debate about sexual harassment… will now have a very public airing. And it will have it in the language of experience to which all women and men have access…’–AGE
Helen Garner was born in 1942 in Geelong, and was educated there and at Melbourne University. She taught in Victorian secondary schools until 1972, when she was dismissed for answering her students’ questions about sex, and had to start writing journalism for a living.
Her first novel, Monkey Grip, came out in 1977, won the 1978 National Book Council Award, and was adapted for film in 1981. Since then she has published novels, short stories, essays, and feature journalism. Her screenplay The Last Days of Chez Nous was filmed in 1990. Garner has won many prizes, among them a Walkley Award for her 1993 article about the murder of two-year-old Daniel Valerio. In 1995 she published The First Stone, a controversial account of a Melbourne University sexual harassment case. Joe Cinque’s Consolation (2004) was a non-fiction study of two murder trials in Canberra.
In 2006 Helen Garner received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature. Her most recent novel, The Spare Room (2008), won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction and the Barbara Jefferis Award, and has been translated into many languages.
Helen Garner lives in Melbourne.