A well-spent hour with Margaret Hamilton had us truly blown away with her thirst for knowledge and rising career. Her Falling Forward talk made us consider ‘audience’ and propelled us through her incredible career from a family who weren’t into reading, to a string of awards for her contributions to Australian children’s books.
Margaret attributed meeting the legendary Maurice Saxby as the catalyst to her lifelong passion for children’s books, and not so much falling forward, as jumping in feet first, revealed how she accepted a job as the only female Director in charge of publishing at Hodder & Stoughton, without knowing much about the role at all!
Her joy of ‘discovering’ new talents and seeing them develop into award-winning creators was evident and we were treated to a viewing of original covers for many of the books she has published during her time, seeing the evolving styles and themes of colour, text and content.
Her love affair with all things Italian was born from her twenty-seven visits to the Bologna children’s book fair whilst running her own publishing company with husband Max.
Margaret and Max’s Blackheath property, now known as Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage, has the largest collection in NSW of original picture book artwork, some of which we glimpsed in the zoom background. Here she hosts courses in creating picture books, an Illustrator in Residence mentorship program and an Air BNB.
Margaret received an Order of Australia for her services to authors, illustrators and publishing, as well as her work for the Children’s Book Council of Australia where she served as National President from 1990 to 1992, convening the First National CBCA Conference.
After over 30 years publishing other people’s books, Margaret published her first picture book B IS FOR BEDTIME, with illustrator Anna Pignataro, a CBCA 2015 Notable Book.
Margaret inspired and challenged us with her journey, and spread joy through her warmth and passion. A trip to Pinerolo is now on many to-do lists and we hope that she does write her memoirs as hinted at during her presentation!
Report by CKT Author, Fiona Lloyd