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Nancy Fotheringham Cato AM was an Australian writer who published more than twenty historical novels, biographies and volumes of poetry. Cato is also known for her work campaigning on environmental and conservation issues.
Cato was born in Glen Osmond in South Australia, and was a fifth-generation Australian. She studied English Literature and Italian at the University of Adelaide, graduating in 1939, then completing 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.
With Roland Robinson and Kevin Collopy, in 1948 Cato was one of the founding members of the Lyre-Bird Writers, 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, 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.
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 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. 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.
Cato married Eldred Norman, and travelled extensively overseas with him. They had one daughter and two sons. 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.
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