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Mature age student finds creative writing success

In 1996 Helen Mitchell was awarded a place in the School of Humanities at The University of Adelaide. She talks about how as a mature-age student, her dream of tertiary education became a reality.

At the start, I read 17th century history and literature. In my third year I met great authors like Homer, Dante, Baudelaire, Milton, Joyce and Faulkner.

I loved every minute of this learning adventure and, at the end of my under-graduate years, was awarded the inaugural European Union Prize for my work in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Joyce’s Ulysses. That moment when I stepped onto the stage to receive my first degree, will live with me all of my life. I was 66 years old.

Under the gentle and generous tutor-ship of Professor Thomas Shapcott, my Honours thesis became a novella, Siege of Contraries, which won the People’s Choice Award in the 2011 South Australian Writers Festival. This fictional account of three young men in World War I is now in its fourth printing.

Publication of my second novel, Pilgrim Souls, coincided with my admission to the Degree of Master of Arts (Creative Writing). Throughout these years many of my short stories have been published in Australia and overseas.

Now in my seventies, my life revolves around crafting characters in fictional situations and keeping in touch with the friends I made during my tertiary years.

The journey continues.

Visit University Engagement’s Alumni in Print page to find out more about Helen’s books.

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