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June 12, 2024

Vale Lynne Spender

We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of author, editor, publisher, and former Executive Director of the ASA, Lynne Spender. Lynne’s impact on the Australian literary sector was immeasurable, and we know she will be missed by many.

Friend to Lynne and author and mentor Jane Messer says, “I learned so much from Lynne about ways of working that were collaborative, respectful, and strategic. As my own career developed I began to also be conscious of how well she’d mentored me, and so many others too. We were dearest friends for forty years, and we could talk to each other about anything and everything. To the very end she was a passionate reader, writing a last book for her family and friends, and as witty and kind as ever.”

Lynne was a proud feminist and prolific writer who published her first book, Intruders on the Rights of Men: Women’s Unpublished Heritage in 1983. She wrote for various media outlets, including a monthly column for Vogue Australia on legal issues for working women, and during her lifetime would author and edit over 30 books.

Executive directors of the ASA over many years have been inspired and supported by Lynne. Former executive director of the ASA, Juliet Rogers, says, “Lynne was an inspiration for me, as she was for so many other women. She was wise, clever and wickedly funny, and always there to help when needed. She was the woman that so many of us strive, and often fail, to be and it was a pleasure and honour, to have known her. Her courage and honesty will continue as a guide for how we can all make a difference.”’

Angelo Loukakis, author and former Executive Director of the ASA says, “Lynne was a champion for Australian writers. Alert to their rights, she worked assiduously and with great skill to protect and extend these over many decades. At the ASA she was a source of confidence and support for a number of executive directors – a role she herself had once performed. Lynne’s dedication, her humour and charm, the person she was, will live on for all who knew her.”

Lynne was not only a fearless campaigner for women, she was also a passionate advocate for writers and illustrators. She served as Executive Director of the ASA from 1993 to 1998, and during her time was instrumental in campaigns to prevent cuts to PLR in 1996, and to support the introduction of Educational Lending Right (ELR).

Author Libby Gleeson says, “Lynne was steadfast and efficient as the management committee changed and expanded to bring into its orbit a lot more writers of works for young people and incorporated the inclusion of children’s book illustrators. Incomes for many dramatically increased with the creation of ELR payments for books held in educational institutions.”

Lynne was also an early campaigner for digital rights, having authored the ASA resource, Electronic/Digital Rights: A Handbook for Authors, published in 1997. She also authored Between the Lines: A Legal Guide for Writers and Illustrators, which the ASA published in 2004.

Lynne was an ASA Board Director from 2010 until 2014, including a stint as Treasurer, and also served as a Writers Benevolent Fund Trustee. 

The current trustees of the Writers Benevolent Fund, Meg Stewart, Debra Adelaide, Roger McDonald and Michael Frankel, and administrator Susan Smith, say, “We were all so fond of Lynne and deeply appreciative of her efforts on behalf of writers in need. Her lively presence at our meetings and quick response to Fund matters will just be missed so much.”

ASA CEO, Olivia Lanchester, says, “Lynne was a fierce, intelligent and relentless campaigner for authors’ rights and the rights of women. As well as being an author herself, she made a difference to the lives of all writers through her advocacy. In my interactions with her, she was energetic, supportive, generous and quick with a quip. I admired her and felt inspired by her and understood immediately her deep connection to the ASA, an organisation that has seen so many champion advocates through our doors, in whose company Lynne looms large. Lynne will be remembered for her integrity and vivacity.”

The ASA pays fond tribute to Lynne Spender’s lifelong advocacy and support, and offer our sincere condolences to her family and friends. You may read more about Lynne’s life in the obituary written by Jane Messer. Vale Lynne.