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Maxine Beneba Clarke

Author, Illustrator

Maxine Beneba Clarke delivers presentations on her short fiction collection Foreign Soil which is a VCE Literature text.

Maxine has written portraits for The Saturday Paper for four years, including profiles of Hugh Jackman, Roxane Gay, Julian Assange, Uncle Jack Charles, Paul Barry, Catherine Deveny, and Tony Abbott. She has guest taught short fiction, profile writing and arts journalism at a number of Australian universities, and also offers talks and workshops on portrait writing.

Where were you born?


What themes are recurring in your work?

My creative work explores humanity in all its complexities, including contemporary issues of racism, recycling, schoolyard bullying, family relationships, migration and displacement.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Having my short fiction collection Foreign Soil put on the 2018 VCE syllabus, and my first picture book The Patchwork Bike being listed as a Children’s Book Council of Australia Honour book and reviewed by the New York Times have been incredible career highlights.

Where have your works been published?

My books have been published in the US, UK and Australia. I’ve also been writing creative portraits of interesting people (writers, filmmakers, politicians, actors, teachers, and everyday people) for The Saturday Paper for four years.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about my family and friends, kids literature, the arts, education, and social justice.

Haven’t I seen you before?

A lot of people ask if they’ve seen me somewhere before, but they can’t remember where. One of the perks of being a writer has been being invited into the public sphere, on shows such as Q&A, One Plus One, and Meet the Mavericks. And I guess there aren’t really that many people in Australia who look like me, so people don’t tend to forget my face!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Words change the world.


“Thank you very much for offering the Maxine Beneba Clarke lecture, both myself and the students found it to be excellent.
Time, venue and cost were all great – and the students loved that she took the time at the end for a meet and greet and a book signing.
The content was excellent, and geared towards her teenage audience – so accessible and useful for their SAC’s.”

—Alison Duncan, Mount St. Joseph Girls' College, March 2019

“Maxine talking about her writing and research process as well as explaining some of the more subtle aspects of the stories was a big help.”

—Julia Lloyd Bruin, Fintona Girls School, March 2019

“The literature students from Dromana College were really impressed and got so much out of Maxine’s seminar. The session has covered so much of what would have taken me much more teaching time to explore. They are really excited about writing their creative pieces and we had a really engaging discussion today based on their reflections from the seminar. The added touch to meet Maxine too meant that they feel connected now with the author, the stories and writing process.”

—J. Croll, Dromana Secondary, March 2019.

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