An avid reader (who read under the bedclothes as a young girl), Hazel Edwards wrote her first novel in grade six, a mystery about adventurous children stuck in a mine. After working in a secondary school and lecturing at Teachers’ College, Hazel published her first novel aged twenty-seven, ‘General Store’.
It is Hazel’s third published work that is her best known, the children’s picture book classic, ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake’. This special imaginary friend has been cherished by children and parents alike and led to the dubious honour of Hazel being referred to as ‘the Hippo Lady’.
Since its publication in 1980, the age-less Hippopotamus on the roof has been reprinted annually, evolved into a series of seven picture books, inspired a junior chapter book, classroom play scripts, a musical stage production and a short movie. The Hippopotamus books have also been translated into Mandarin, Braille, Auslan and were presented as an official Australian Government gift to the children of Princess Mary of Denmark.
Whilst Hazel loves creating quirky, feisty characters for newly independent readers in her easy-to-read junior chapter books (such as Sleuth Astrid the mind-reading chook), she writes for all ages and has published over 220 books across a range of subjects and genres.
Hazel has collaborated with experts to publish adult non-fiction titles such as such as ‘Difficult Personalities’ (now translated into seven languages), helps people craft memoirs and family histories by ‘Writing a Non-Boring Family History” and co-wrote ‘ f2m:the boy within’.
Hazel awarded Monash University Distinguished Alumni for Education (2022).
Awarded the Australian Antarctic Division Arts Fellowship in 2001, Hazel travelled to Casey Station on the Polar Bird. This visit inspired a range of creative projects including the young adult eco-mystery ‘Antarctica’s Frozen Chosen’, picture book ‘ Antarctic Dad’ and the memoir ‘Antarctic Writer on Ice’.
A fan of interesting and unusual locations, Hazel has been a guest writer-in-residence at the former Fremantle Prison (now the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre), the Mount Newman mining community in outback WA, a visiting author to Pasir Ridge International School in Indonesia and an author ambassador to Youfu West Street International School in Nanjing, China.
Passionate about literacy and creativity, Hazel has proudly held the title of Reading Ambassador for various organisations. Formerly a director on the Committee of Management of the Australian Society of Authors, Hazel was awarded an OAM for Literature (2013) and Monash University awarded her the Distinguished Alumni for Education (2022). Currently she is patron of the Society of Women Writers (Vic).
Hazel writes a new story for her four grandsons each birthday.