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Nan Hunt

Author of Whistle Up the Chimney

Includes the names: N. L. Ray, Nan/Ogden Hunt

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Short biography
Nan(cy) (Louise) Hunt (aka N.L. RAY) was born on 16 September 1918 in Bathurst, New South Wales. Her first written work was accepted for publication in the Sydney Sun and the Melbourne Leader when she was only 11 years of age. Later, she wrote short stories, which were published in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Woman’s Mirror. Her verse and articles were also published in the Sydney Bulletin. She worked as a stenographer in the office of a Bathurst department store from 1935 to 1943, as a clerk with the Women‟s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAF) from 1943 to 1946 when stationed in Melbourne. Hunt was a secretary from 1946 to 1967 in Sydney. She married Walter Gibbs Hunt and returned to Bathurst in 1968.
In the early 1960s her short stories were included in the anthologies Beneath the Sun and Emu Stew edited by Patricia Wrightson and Too True edited by Anne Bower Ingram. In 1967, while she was living and working in Sydney, the New South Wales Department of Education‟s School Magazine commenced publishing her work. At the urging of Anne Bower Ingram, Nan wrote her first novel, The Everywhere Dog, which she published in 1978 as N.L. Ray. Nan Hunt had written to Anne Ingram congratulating Collins Publisher on Beneath the Sun. Anne Ingram wrote in reply that if she were to write an adventure story for ten-year-olds, please could she have the „first look‟. (Letter from Nan Hunt, 6 September 2011) After her husband's death in 1975, she helped her stepson run their Bathurst property for a few years before taking up writing full time. The impetus for The Everywhere Dog (1978) came from a beach holiday when Nan Hunt saw dog tracks with no accompanying human tracks. She wondered what the dog was doing and why the tracks ended at the water. She later saw an unaccompanied dog swimming in the surf. (Letter, 6 September 2011).
Her first novel was quickly followed by Roma Mercedes and Fred (1978), The Pow Toe (1979), There Was This Man Running… (1979), and Nightmare to Nowhere (1980). From 1981 to 1984 Nan chose to write picture book texts and published Whistle Up the Chimney (1981) (Commended ABPA Book Design, 1982, Commended CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award, 1982, NSW Premier‟s Literary Award, 1982), An Eye Full of Soot and an Ear Full of Steam and Wild and Woolly (1983), Rain, Hail or Shine (1984) and the emerging readers text When Ollie Spat on the Ball (1985). Picture books, she contends, are „a difficult discipline. To leave all the adjectives to the artist … each word must be right‟ (McVitty 1989: 100).
The years 1987 to 1988 were extremely productive years in which the writer was the winner in the NSW Premier‟s Literary Awards, and was commended in the Australian Family Therapists‟ Association Awards, for A Rabbit Named Harris (1987). This was followed by The Junk Eaters (1987) and The Show (1988), which were commended in the Australian Booksellers and Publishers Association Ashton Scholastic Award for Best Designed Illustrated Children‟s Book in 1988. The emerging readers text, We Got Wheels, Man and Other Things, was also completed in 1988. From 1989 to 2000, Nan wrote a variety of texts for the full range of readers, including Never Tomorrow (1989), Families are Funny (1990), The Whistle Stop Party (1990), The Dove Tree (1991), The Harvest Loaf (1992), Phoenix (1994), Trackdown (1994), You Can’t See Me, I’m Invisible (1994), Patch of Sunlight (1995), Like a Pebble in Your Shoe (1996) and Grandmuttie (2000). Nan Hunt‟s career as a fiction writer and children‟s author has been long and meritorious. The writer is a realistic and shrewd observer of human nature. She possesses a playful imagination, a pervasive sense of humour and holds very firm life values. She is quoted, in her files, as saying that she makes no apology for trying to stretch children‟s imagination and to open their eyes to situations of fear and grief.
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