Penelope Hanley
Penelope Hanley: Australian author and UC alumna

PhD in Communication, 2009

Australian author and UC alumna, Penelope Hanley strongly believes in reading as widely as possible. With the recent release of her latest novel, After She Left, Penny explores migration and social change, risk-taking and artistic growth, loss and second chances through three generations of women across a span of five decades.

After a long career as an editor, she completed her PhD in Communications in 2009 and found that the degree made employment as a writer easily attainable. The PhD enabled her to use her superior analytical, research and writing skills on projects at worthwhile organisations whose values she agreed with, and eventually resulted in the publications of the novel she wrote as the creative component of her PhD. She misses her time on campus, where she spent time reading and researching, attending seminars and contributing to conferences, meeting other students and experts, and of course being able to cycle around the beautiful Bruce campus.

Now working as a freelance writer, Penelope begins her day with an early morning writing session, moving between short stories, film pitches, and research or writing on commissioned projects. At times she has been a Communications Manager for NGO’s, where she has written fact sheets, media releases, journal articles and web content. With a deep passion for literature and writing, she finds that the best thing about her work is getting to play with words all day.

A highlight of Penelope’s journey so far is hearing Geraldine Doogue’s first words on launching her book, Inspiring Australians (ASP, 2015) at Government House in Sydney: “This book is so much more than the sum of its parts”. That ideal is not easy to achieve – but rather an alchemy where all the research, writing and craft comes together at the end and blooms into something on a higher level.

For those looking to pursue a career as a writer, Penelope offers this advice; “Be optimistic. Everyone needs words and there will always be jobs in this area, regardless of whether they are in the form of journalism or not. Never, ever give up, don’t get discouraged and listen to your instincts”.


Media and Communications