Wendy Whiteley will discuss her latest book at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.
Wendy Whiteley will discuss her latest book at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

Impressive line-up at Byron writers’ festival

AWARD-winning American novelist, poet and essayist Jeffery Renard Allen and debut novelist Angela Flournoy will join an impressive international contingent making their way to the Byron Writers Festival in August.

Wendy Whiteley will also make an appearance.

Born in 1941, Wendy is best known as "goddess muse" and wife of artist Brett Whiteley, and as mother of their daughter, actress Arkie Whiteley who died in 2001.

She has become a notable cultural figure, particularly since her ex-husband’s death in 1992.

Wendy posed for Brett many times, and his work was strongly influenced by her opinions. Although they divorced three years before he died, she has control of Brett Whiteley’s estate including the copyright to his works, and she honoured his memory in the establishment of the Brett Whiteley Studio in Surry Hills, Sydney, which is now owned and managed as an art museum by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Wendy Whiteley is also known for the restoration and landscaping of derelict railway land in Lavender Bay, Sydney, which she turned into a "magic garden" and where Brett and Arkie Whiteley’s ashes were scattered.

Her latest book, Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden, is authored by Janet Hawley and published by Penguin.

Festival director Edwina Johnson says keynote guests so far include 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner William Finnegan, Cheryl Strayed, Charlotte Wood and Madga Szubanski.

Also on the program are TV personalities Stan Grant, Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales.

"(They) head a stellar line-up of more than 150 writers and thinkers converging on our iconic coastal town of Byron Bay from August 5 to 7 to celebrate the festival’s 20th anniversary," Edwina said.

"The festival program is underpinned by a fundamental belief in the importance and power of literature in shaping our lives.

"The festival facilitates the all-important and age-old art of storytelling and nurtures the myriad benefits that flow from tales and talking about life."

Festival workshops start on August 1.

The full festival program will be announced on June 15, along with full-price tickets.

This major annual literary event, the largest regional writers’ festival, offers a seven-day program attracting more than 65,000 individual attendances.

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