Helen Garner comes from Geelong, and was educated there and at Melbourne University.
She taught in Victorian high schools in the sixties and early seventies. Her first novel, Monkey Grip, came out in 1977; a film based on it was released in 1981. Since then she has worked close to the boundary (if there is one) between fiction and non-fiction, publishing various award-winning novels, short stories, and essays.
Between books she has made a living from feature journalism and film reviews. Her screenplay The Last Days of Chez Nous was filmed in 1990. In 1995 she published The First Stone, a controversial account of a Melbourne University sexual harassment case. Her second non-fiction book, Joe Cinque’s Consolation (2004) was a study of two murder trials in Canberra. In 2006 she won the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature. Her most recent novel, The Spare Room (2008), has been translated into many languages.
At present she is writing a non-fiction book about another murder trial, in the Supreme Court of Victoria. She lives in Melbourne.