Eleanor Catton – Author Focus


Author Eleanor Catton Image Credit: Granta
Author Eleanor Catton
Image Credit: Granta

Born in Canada, 1985, author Eleanor Catton moved to Christchurch, New Zealand when she was just six years old. She enjoyed a full education, including studying English at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, as well as completing a Masters of Creative Writing at the Institute of Modern Letters.

In 2008, Catton won the Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. This program is designed for emerging writers who are working on a manuscript and are interested in exchanging further ideas with other writers of similar standing. The workshop aims to foster new writers, with many having gone on to win numerous awards later in their careers.


In 2010, Eleanor Catton published her debut novel The Rehearsal. Originally written as the thesis for her Masters, the work received mostly positive reviews. Tackling topics such as teenage sexuality and teacher/student relationships as well as exploring issues of intimacy, experience, power and innocence, the prose has been described as “arresting” and the storytelling “seductive”. Written when Catton was only 22, The Rehearsal was the starting point for an already fruitful career.

In 2013, Elean0r Catton broke records by being the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker Prize, in its 45-year history. Her second novel The Luminaries took out the prestigious prize, also as the longest book to win, at a heavy 848 pages. Set in 1866, the story begins with a gathering of 12 men who have met in secret to discuss a range of unsolved crimes. Protagonist Walter Moody stumbles upon this group and is drawn into its intrigue and mystery. Praised for its experimental form, The Luminaries has certainly cemented Eleanor Catton’s place among the most original young authors of today.


Eleanor Catton's 'The Luminaries' among the other 2013 Man Booker shortlisted novels. Image Credit: AFP
Eleanor Catton’s ‘The Luminaries’ among the other 2013 Man Booker shortlisted novels.
Image Credit: AFP

– 2013, The Man Booker Prize, The Luminaries

– 2010, Long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction

– 2009, New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church, Best First Book Award for Fiction, The Rehearsal

– 2007, Adam Award in Creative Writing, The Rehearsal

Among others.

What’s Next?

Eleanor Catton has remained quiet about future agreements with publishers and what’s next in terms of her writing. However, her Man Booker win has set her up for a steady and loyal following for any novels she intends to write further down the track.

Writer's Edit

Writer’s Edit is a young online literary magazine created especially for writers and lovers of books. Founded in July 2013, the magazine is home to writing and book-related news, as well as advice and inspiration for emerging authors. Writer's Edit also publishes the anthology Kindling. To find out more, click here.

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