In 2018 a group of avid readers with a common passion for creating equality in the publishing industry came together to establish the Stella Book Club at Melbourne Girls Grammar.
Integral to this club is the partnership that the girls established with Stella, the organisation that manages the Stella Prize, a prize aiming to promote female Australian authors. This student run platform provides our girls with the opportunity to engage with Australian female authors as well as texts longlisted for the Stella Prize.
Through this club, not only do our girls broaden their reading pool and share their views on issues raised by the authors, they also have the opportunity to meet remarkable Australian authors. In the Stella Club’s inaugural year, our girls were fortunate to meet contemporary and influential female Australian authors including Heather Rose, Cate Kennedy, Maxine Beneba Clarke and Sofie Laguna.
Upon meeting the students as part of the Stella Club, Heather Rose, the winner of the Stella Prize 2017, was impressed by the potential the club had to inspire the girls and nourish their lives.
Meeting the students at MGGS was a highlight of my Stella year. I had the sense that through the Book Club program their minds have been blown open to the myriad possibilities of imagination and creativity and I have no doubt that this will nourish them all their lives.
Heather Rose, Stella Prize winner 2017 for The Museum of Modern Love
The Stella Literary Evening 2018
The Stella Club is community minded, and through various initiatives during the year the girls have raised funds for The Stella Prize, helping them contribute to the future of the Australian publishing industry for women. A major fundraising event run by the Club was the inaugural Stella Literary Evening, held during August. The event effectively engaged students and the wider community with reading and promoting Australian women writers in order to address issues of gender disparity in the publishing industry. Over 100 community members, including students, parents, teachers and members of the Stella Prize executive attended, including Seri Renkin, Chair of The Stella Prize, who spoke about the importance of such a prize in the Australian literary landscape.
I was so inspired by the girls and the standard of their reviews, their insights, personal reflections and critical thinking.
Seri Renkin, Chair of The Stella Prize
The Stella Club’s guest of honour was Miles Franklin Award Winner and Stella Prize longlisted author, Sofie Laguna, who was interviewed by a panel of our club members regarding her novel ‘The Choke’ as well as her thoughts on being a female author in Australia in 2018. Our girls also presented their reviews of the Stella books and the community was encouraged to ask questions during a Q&A session.
The inaugural opening of the Stella Literary Evening was a great success! The Stella Club were very pleased by the success of the evening and are extremely proud to have our partnership with the Stella Prize which enables us to fight for recognition of female literature.
Beatrix Appleton, Stella Book Club Co-Captain, Year 11
The book reviews prepared by our girls can be found on the Stella website by following the below link.
Head of English at Melbourne Girls Grammar, Christophe Taylor, commends the girls for their commitment and hard work in bringing the Stella Book Club to life.
The Stella Book Club not only engages our students by extending their reading repertoire, it also offers a platform for our girls to express their views on contemporary female authors’ concerns, whilst supporting and advocating for gender equality within the Australian literary landscape. Their dedication and enthusiasm have been remarkable.
Christophe Taylor, Head of English
Seri Renkin, Chair of the Stella Prize commented on the opportunities for growth students have received through the Stella Book Club.
The Stella Book Club has created a unique learning experience for them and a community of active readers – interpreters and thinkers who are exploring through the texts different Australian landscapes and periods of time, their relationship to that, their identity as young women growing up in Australia now and the dark and light places of human experience – in a safe way.
Seri Renkin, Chair of The Stella Prize
Our girls have relished the challenge and opportunity of establishing this book club. By having the responsibility to drive the success of the Stella Club, our girls have developed independent critical thinking skills, and have become advocates for change. Our girls are empowered to expect a fair representation in the literary world of their gender. Therefore, not only do our girls listen and promote the voices of tremendous Australian women but they also develop their own in the process.