_MG_7889_photo_by_AnnaJacobsonEvN is at the forefront of an Indigenous literary renaissance, and builds for others to follow. Ellen’s work, on the page and off, echoes across the very architecture of writing in Australia today and will echo long into the future. Alison Whittaker.

Born in Meanjin in 1990, Ellen van Neerven (they/she) is an award-winning writer and editor of Mununjali Yugambeh and Dutch heritage with strong ancestral ties to south east Queensland. They write fiction, poetry, plays and non-fiction.

Ellen’s first book, Heat and Light (UQP, 2014), a hybrid fictional text, a mix of speculative fiction and realism, was the recipient of the David Unaipon Award, the Dobbie Literary Award and the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards Indigenous Writers Prize. 

Ellen’s second book, a collection of poetry, Comfort Food (UQP, 2016) was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize and Highly Commended for the 2016 Wesley Michel Wright Prize.

A new poetry collection, Throat, is forthcoming with UQP in May 2020.

Ellen’s play about water sovereignty ‘SWIM’ featured at the Yellamundie First Peoples Playwriting Festival in Sydney in January 2019, and was part of the QPAC Sparks program in November 2019.

Ellen graduated with a BFA in Creative Writing at QUT in 2010. After graduating, they completed training as an editor of Indigenous-authored manuscripts at the black&write! Indigenous Writing and Editing Project at State Library Queensland. They were in the role of Managing Editor at black&write! until 2016. Ellen works as a freelance editor on select projects.

In 2020, Ellen joins Maxine Beneba Clarke and Omar Sakr in writing for the poetry section of The Saturday Paper.

agent: Emma Paterson 

photo credit: Anna Jacobson


  • Upcoming

    Throat Tour

    May 13   Avid Reader, Brisbane