Helen Daniel

Editor, literary critic (Australian Book Review) and author

Helen Daniel (1946–2000) attended Camberwell High School from 1958 to 1963. At CHS, Helen was a school prefect and won a number of awards, exhibitions and scholarships. She completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education at the University of Melbourne and then worked as a secondary teacher in Victorian high schools from 1965 to 1975. In 1975, Helen resigned from teaching to write a PhD thesis on post-war Australian fiction, which was completed at the University of Melbourne in 1979.

After publishing a number of articles in Australian and overseas literary journals, Helen Daniel began regular reviewing for The Age in 1980 and, later, other newspapers. Helen was a judge of literary awards, including: The Age Book of the Year Awards; the NBC Banjo Awards; the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards; a member of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards Committee (1989–1990); a member of the assessment panel of the Literature Board of the Australia Council (1989); and a member of the programming committee of the Melbourne Festival (1989–1991). Helen was also a secondhand bookseller in Melbourne and continued to write reviews and literary criticism for newspapers and journals.

Helen had in excess of 200 book reviews published in The Age, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, The Sunday Herald, The Australian Book Review, Overland and The Age Monthly Review, and had written occasional radio reviews for the ABC. In 1988 to 1989 she appeared on the SBS Bookshow TV programme. She also wrote some thirty critical articles mainly on contemporary Australian fiction, and published in Australian and overseas journals: Westerly, Australian Literary Studies, Southerly, Overland, Modern Fiction Studies, Antipodes, All Asia Review of Books, Ariel and The Age Monthly Review. Helen also contributed to International Writers in English (ed. Robert Ross, Garland, New York, 1991).

Helen was the author of two major works of literary criticism: Double Agent: David Ireland and His Work (Penguin, 1982) and Liars: Australian New Novelists (Penguin, 1988), and she edited the following anthologies: Expressway (Penguin, 1989), The Good Reading Guide (McPhee Gribble, 1989), and Millennium, a collection of time-pieces by Australian writers, both fiction and non-fiction (Penguin, 1991). One project included a critical work on contemporary Australian fiction entitled Dark Cat: A Counterfeit Literary History, published by McPhee Gribble in 1992.