Julia Leigh

Julia Leigh

The protégée

Published in 2003

Julia Leigh has long wanted to be a writer and for the past few years the 33-year-old Australian has become singularly committed to her profession.

Julia Leigh has long wanted to be a writer and for the past few years the 33-year-old Australian has become singularly committed to her profession.

“I’m enormously grateful for this opportunity of working with Toni Morrison,” said Leigh, a philosophy and law graduate of the University of Sydney, at the start of the mentoring programme. Leigh, who already has one novel to her credit, is enthusiastic about the “encouragement and comfort” that mentorship brings. “At one stage I thought of putting my manuscript on hold and beginning something entirely different,” she reveals. “Toni shook her head: ‘No, no’.”

Leigh appreciates the value of mentoring, as she previously participated in a small-scale mentorship programme administered by the Australian Society of Authors, which, like her, is committed to protecting the rights of authors.

Leigh’s first novel, The Hunter, depicts the complex relationship between hunter and prey. The book showcases her talents as an uncommonly gifted writer who has made a startling debut. Translated into six languages, the work has won accolades worldwide, including being named as a New York Times’ “Notable Book of the Year” in 2001. The recipient of three national prizes for young Australian authors, Leigh has also been nominated by the London Observer as one of “21 Writers for the 21st Century”.

Having moved from Paris to New York, to be near her mentor, Julia Leigh now plans to finish her second novel. She looks forward to continue sharing this work with Morrison, a writer whom she admires for many reasons, not least of which “her willingness to explore raw and difficult terrain”.