Nancy Cato (1917-2000). Courtesy Babelio.

Nancy Cato
Pen name Nancy Norman
Occupation Prose writer and poet
Nationality Australian
Genres Historical novels, biographies and poetry

Nancy Fotheringham Cato AM (11 March 1917 - 3 July 2000) was an Australian poet and novelist who published more than 20 historical novels, biographies, and volumes of poetry. She is also known for her work campaigning on environmental and conservation issues.[1]


Cato, a fifth-generation Australian, was born in Glen Osmond in South Australia. She studied English Literature and Italian at the University of Adelaide, graduating in 1939, then completed a two-year course at the South Australian School of Arts. She was a cadet journalist on The News from 1935 to 1941, and as an art critic from 1957 to 1958.[2]

With Roland Robinson and Kevin Collopy, in 1948 Cato was one of the founding members of the Lyre-Bird Writers,[3] an independent and cooperative group that formed to publish verse by Australian writers. As a member of the Jindyworobak Movement, Cato edited the 1950 Jindyworobak Anthology,[1] one of a series of anthologies produced to promote indigenous Australian ideas and customs, particularly in poetry. She was actively involved in the Fellowship of Australian Writers and the Australian Society of Authors during the 1950s and 1960s.[1]

Cato's books include: Green Grows The Vine, Brown Sugar and All The Rivers Run, which was made into a TV mini-series. Her book Mister Maloga told the story of Daniel Matthews and his Maloga Mission to Aboriginal people on the Murray River in Victoria.

Cato married Eldred Norman, and travelled extensively overseas with him. They had one daughter and two sons.[1] Dr Nancy Cato Norman died at Noosa Heads on 3 July 2000.

Cato's cousin was also named Nancy Cato and was host of children's TV show the Magic Circle Club in the mid 1960s.


Cato became a local icon in Noosa, Queensland area and has a park and restaurant named after her. The Noosa Parks Association made her a life member and an honorary park ranger for her work in conservation.[3] In 1984, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to literature and the environment, and she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Queensland in 1991.

In 2006 a new suburb of Franklin was proposed for Canberra with the streets named after Australian women writers. The suburb is to include Nancy Cato Street.[4]


  • 1933 South Australian Tennyson Medal for English Literature [3][4]
  • 1961 NT Poetry Prize [3]
  • 1963 Farmers International Poetry Prize [3]
  • 1978 the Noosa Arts Theatre Playwriting Competition, Best Play Award for Travellers through the night (inaugural winner) [3]
  • 1988 Alice Award by the Society of Women Writers
  • Advance Australia award for environmental campaigning
  • 1991 Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Queensland
  • 1984 Member of the Order of Australia (AM)[5]




  • "Travellers Through the Night" in Noosa One-act Winners: Volume 2. Brisbane, Qld: Playlab Press, 1994.


  • All the Rivers Run. London: Heinemann, 1958.
  • Time, Flow Softly: A novel of the River Murray. London: Heinemann, 1959.
  • Green Grows the Vine. London: Heinemann, 1960.
  • But Still The Stream: A novel of the Murray River. London: Heinemann, 1962.
  • North-West by South. London: Heinemann, 1965.
  • Brown Sugar. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1974.
  • Queen Trucanini (with Vivienne Rae-Ellis). London: Heinemann, 1976.
  • Forefathers. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1982.
  • The Lady Lost in Time. Sydney: Collins, 1986.
  • A Distant Island. London: New English Library, 1988.
  • The Heart of the Continent. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989.
  • Marigold. London: New English Library, 1992; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1993.

Short fictionEdit

  • The Sea Ants, and other stories. London: Heinemann, 1964.


  • Mister Maloga: Daniel Matthews and his mission, Murray River, 1864-1902. St. Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1976.
  • The Noosa Story: A Study In Unplanned Development. Milton, Qld: Jacaranda, 1979.
  • River's End: The story of Goolwa and the Murray mouth (with Leslie McLeay). Beverley, SA: 1985.


  • Nin and the Scribblies. Milton, Qld: Jacaranda, 1976.


  • Jindyworobak Anthology 1950. Melbourne: Jindyworobak, 1950.[7]

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[8]

See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Land 2008
  2. ACT 2006
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 UNSW@ADFA & 2007 Biographical Note
  4. 4.0 4.1 Australian Capital City 2006
  5. "Its and honour – Nancy Fotheringham Cato". Australian Government. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  6. Nancy Cato (1971-2000), Australian Poetry Library, Web, Mar. 4, 2012
  7. Jindyworoback Anthology 1950, Trove, National Library of Australia. Web, May 28, 2014.
  8. Search results = au:Nancy Cato, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, May 28, 2014.

External linksEdit

  • Nancy Cato in the Oxford Companion to Australian Literature
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