Tim Winton was born in Perth, Western Australia, but moved at a young age to the regional city of Albany.
Winton has been named a Living Treasure by the National Trust and awarded the Centenary Medal for service to literature and the community. He is patron of the Tim Winton Award for Young Writers sponsored by the City of Subiaco, Western Australia.
He has lived in Italy, France, Ireland and Greece but currently lives in Fremantle, near Perth, Western Australia with his wife and three children.
His younger brother is solo musician and high school chaplain Andrew Winton and his younger sister is Sharyn O'Neill, the current Director General of the WA Education Department.
Whilst at Curtin University of Technology, Winton wrote his first novel, An Open Swimmer, which won The Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1981, launching his writing career. He has stated that he wrote "the best part of three books while at university". His second book, Shallows, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1984. It wasn't until Cloudstreet was published in 1991, however, that his writing career was properly established. His latest novel, Breath, was published in 2008.
In 1995, Winton’s The Riders was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, as later was his 2002 book, Dirt Music. Both are currently being adapted for film. He has won many other prizes, including the Miles Franklin Award a record four times: for Shallows (1984), Cloudstreet (1992), Dirt Music (2002) and Breath (2009). Cloudstreet is arguably his best-known work, regularly appearing in lists of Australia’s best-loved novels.
He is now one of Australia's most esteemed novelists, writing for both adults and children. All his books are still in print and have been published in eighteen different languages. His work has also been successfully adapted for stage, screen and radio. On the publication of his novel, Dirt Music, he collaborated with broadcaster, Lucky Oceans, to produce a compilation CD, Dirt Music — Music for a Novel.
Tim Winton Young Writers Award
The Tim Winton Young Writers Award, sponsored annually by the City of Subiaco, offers children across the Perth metropolitan area "the chance to develop and demonstrate their creative writing abilitites". It is open to Primary School and High School-aged short story writers. Two compilations have been published: Destination Unknown (2001) and Life Bytes (2002). Tim Winton is the patron of this competition.
Winton draws his prime inspiration from landscape and place, mostly coastal Western Australia. He has said "The place comes first. If the place isn't interesting to me then I can't feel it. I can't feel any people in it. I can't feel what the people are on about or likely to get up to". His themes often centre on an issue that is well described by the character Gail in The Turning. She says that "every vivid experience comes from your adolescence".
Winton revisits place and, occasionally, characters from one book to another. Queenie Cookson, for example, is a character in Breath who also appears in Shallows, Minimum of Two, and in one of the Lockie Leonard books.
Winton is actively involved in the Australian environmental movement. He is a patron of the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and is passionately involved in many of their campaigns, notably their work in raising awareness about sustainable seafood consumption. He is also a patron of the Stop the Toad Foundation (Inc). Winton recently contributed to the whaling debate with an article on the Last Whale website, and he is a prominent advocate of the Save Moreton Bay organization, the Environment Defender’s Office, Australian Wildlife Conservancy and the Marine Conservation Society, with whom he is campaigning against shark finning.
In 2003, he was awarded the inaugural Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Medal in recognition for his work in the campaign to save the Ningaloo Reef.
Winton keeps away from the public eye, unless promoting a new book or supporting an environmental issue. He told reviewer Jason Steger that "Occasionally they wheel me out for green advocacy stuff but that's the only kind of stuff I put my head up for".