Scott, Rosie

Scott, Rosie

In Brief

Rosie Scott writes fiction, including novels and short stories, poetry and plays. Her writing explores the passion and anguish of contemporary life and her books have been published and translated internationally. Scott has lived in Australia and she has received Australian awards and prizes, as well as receiving recognition in this form in New Zealand. Rosie Scott and Tom Keneally have edited PEN anthologies of refugees' work and Scott has also published a collection of non-fiction essays.


Scott, Rosie (1948– ), is a successful writer of fictions about the energy and anguish of contemporary life.

Born in Johnsonville, Wellington, she took an MA (Hons) in English at Victoria University and the Diploma in Drama at Auckland. An itinerant period in social work, publishing, journalism, waitressing and acting in far-flung locations from Nouméa to London provided material for her inventively written tales of career girls, drug addicts, family women and queens of love in the shifting cinematic dreamworld of modern society.

She started with a volume of poems, Flesh and Blood (1984) and a play, ‘Say Thank You to the Lady’. Produced in 1985 at Mercury 2, Auckland, this presents a Pakeha social worker who discovers in a lawless Maori girl a model for the strength she herself needs to break free of oppression in marriage and work. The play was popular and Scott won the 1986 Bruce Mason Award. Its short filmic scenes adapted well to the feature film version, Redheads, for which she was script editor.

Her first novel, Glory Days (1988), was shortlisted for the New Zealand Book Awards and published internationally. Queen of Love (1989) is a collection of clear-sighted, hard-nosed stories about women’s relationships, competitiveness and sexiness, and Nights with Grace (1990) is equally forthright yet lyrical about ‘that lovely drenched expectant silence before sex’. Scott can handle abandonment to a passionate affair on a dreamy Pacific island without ever using a cliché in language or plot.

Her later novels deal more with the dehumanising superficiality and angst of the city: Feral City (1992), Lives on Fire (1993) and Movie Dreams (1995). Their writing fortunately is never as dreary or burnt out as the people they describe, having wit, vitality and a good ear for phrase and image: ‘We were lying in bed, the old fan lolloping above us like a live thing mosquitoes whining tinnily in the hills and valleys of the bedclothes.’ All Scott’s recent books have been internationally published and translated; she has published in Rolling Stone, Metro and elsewhere. She works on film scripting, including Glory Days. Since the late 1980s she has lived in Australia (Brisbane, then Sydney) and has received support from the Literature Board of the Australia Council. Like most literary migrants there, she has lamented (in Hecate, 1992) the lack of interaction across the Tasman.



In 1998, Rosie Scott received the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award.

Faith Singer
is a novel set in Sydney's King's Cross (2001).

The Red Heart (1999) is a collection of non fiction essays. Feral City was republished in Germany in 2001 in a list of classic science fiction books.

In 2003 Faith Singer was voted as one of the 100 best Australian books (all genres) by members of the Australian Society of Authors. In 2004 an international survey run by the Orange Prize Committee, Guardian Newspaper and Hay Festival named Faith Singer as one of the Top 50 Essential Contemporary Reads.

In 2004 and 2005, Scott and Tom Keneally edited a PEN anthology of refugees' work called Another Country, which is now in its third edition. Scott and Keneally were nominated for the Human Rights Medal, and Another Country was cited as a reason for the judges awarding Australian PEN the Community Human Rights Award. Scott was a recipient of the inaugural Sydney PEN Award for services to PEN in 2006.


Updated January 2017.