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Mem Fox interviewed by Rob Linn for the Mortlock Library collection [sound recording]
Bib ID 3603882
Format AudioAudio, OnlineOnline [sound recording]
Fox, Mem, 1946-, Interviewee
Online Access
Access Conditions Access open for research, personal copies and public use. 
Description 2005 
4 sound files (ca. 177 min.) 

Mortlock Library collection.

Technical Details

Mode of access: Internet via World Wide Web. 


Mem Fox talks about her memories of her parents; their decision to go to Rhodesia; the family's arrival at Hope Fountain Mission near Bulawayo, Rhodesia and her memory of the place; her early childhood friends being native Africans; her father training teachers for primary school roles; her education; understanding racism and being opposed to it; the Hope Fountain Mission in physical and social terms; being encouraged to read and to pursue literature; memorising poetry and her discoveries about words and language; the development of attitudes in childhood and of how lives are shaped; the BBC broadcasts and family discussions about what was heard; inspirational teachers; the reasons behind her leaving Africa to attend the Rose Bruford College in the UK; her love of acting and performance of plays at school; her reluctance to attend university; working as a volunteer worker at the World Council of Churches' Conference Centre at Celingny, near Geneva; the nature of the work and those she met from a diversity of backgrounds; teaching at Rose Bruford and the strict regime there.

Fox speaks about the classes she attended and the many pressures faced by students; meeting Malcolm Fox, her future husband at Rose Bruford; their marriage in Rhodesia; both attending the University in Butare, Rwanda; finding life in Rwanda very difficult; leaving after 6 months, via England, for Australia on a government-assisted passage; the welcome at Sydney airport on 4 January, 1970; the birth of their daughter, Chloe (1971); the circumstances that surrounded their return to South Australia; the discovery of a melanoma and the effects on her and her family's life; why she and Malcolm returned to university study and how their careers evolved; being urged to gain further tertiary qualifications and her studies at Flinders University; writing a children's book; the journey of rejection by publishers; how Omnibus books came to publish 'Possum Magic'; the book's attraction to children and her pleasure in writing it.


Mem Fox was born in Melbourne, Vic. Her parents left for Africa when she was six months, to work as teachers with the London Missionary Society in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). She attended schools in Africa and the UK. Married in 1969, she returned to Australia in 1970 to live. Completing a degree in Arts at Flinders University (1977), Education (1978) and a Diploma in Language Arts (1981). She became Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer in the School of Education, Flinders University (1995). Retiring in 1997, to become a full time writer and consultant in literacy.


Interview conducted in association with the National Library of Australia and J.D. Somerville Oral History Collection, Mortlock Library of South Australiana.

Recorded on December 02, 2005 and May 21, 2006 at Brighton, S. Aust.

Index/Finding Aid Note Timed summary (4 p.) and corrected transcript (typescript, 76 leaves) 
Subjects Fox, Mem, 1946- -- Interviews.  |  Fox, Mem, 1946- Possum magic.  |  Authors, Australian -- Interviews.  |  Children's stories, Australian.
Other authors/contributors Linn, Rob, Interviewer  |  National Library of Australia  |  Mortlock Library of South Australiana

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Details Collect From
Copy: Recording
Special Collections Reading Room
ORAL TRC 5575 (transcript)
Copy: Transcript
Special Collections Reading Room
ORAL TRC 5575 (summary)
Copy: Summary
Special Collections Reading Room

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