aI remember seeing Margaret Hamilton at a CBCA conference years and years ago, speaking with Maurice Saxby. I was a teacher-librarian at the time, but a CBCA newbie. The pair of them were treated like royalty, and I confess that although I knew of the legend of Maurice, I had no idea who this Margaret Hamilton was.
In hindsight, I wish I'd paid more attention. In recent years, I would look at her brochures for writing weekends at Pinerolo, a gorgeous children's book cottage in the Blue Mountains, and say 'one day I'll get there...'
Margaret's influence in the Australian children's book industry cannot be underestimated. I grew up reading a mish-mash of English and US fiction, and occasionally an Australian title. With her trademark determination, she established Australia as a serious contender for children's books in Australia, publishing modern classics and establishing the careers of countless children's writers.
Margaret's memoir was released in 2022, and she died in November that same year. Her portrait on the cover was created by her dear friend, Bruce Whatley.
Although the memoir was officially launched months ago, Libby Gleeson, another children's book icon, spoke at my local library reflecting on the remarkable life and career of her dear friend. The more I listened, the more grateful and humbled I became. I cannot believe I didn't know the significance of Margaret Hamilton in the children's book world. And I cannot believe I put the opportunities to attend Pinerolo on the back burner.
As I continue to pursue my love of writing for children, I will bear in mind the legacy of Margaret Hamilton, and ensure I don't let other opportunities pass by. I will seize the day! (Margaret Hamilton certainly did.)
Vale Margaret Hamilton - 23 June 1941 - 24 November 2022