Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Vale Diana Gribble. This morning I found out that Australian publishing legend Diana Gribble died overnight after a short illness with pancreatic cancer.

I didn't know Di as well as either WH Chong or Sophie Cunningham, who have paid tribute to her today, but she was my boss at Private Media when I worked at The Reader. My memories of her are of her playful, egalitarian manner and intolerance for bullshit. I saw her put her foot down on more than one occasion about aspects of the editorial, in a quiet but emphatic way, and when she did that no amount of cajoling could budge her.

But mainly I remember her laughing at our cheesy headlines, or at Chong's unflattering Photoshop caricatures of politicians and celebrities.

It's a real privilege to have worked with someone so influential – Di's contribution to Australian culture can't be understated. She co-founded McPhee Gribble, one of the most influential publishing houses of the '70s and '80s, kickstarting the careers of many currently prominent writers and thinkers. She then went on to co-found Text, another Australian media company that's shaped the landscape, and when Private Media acquired Crikey, Di helped steer yet another influential outlet for Australian ideas.

Her multiple board roles underline her commitment to working behind the scenes, and she poured the influence she commanded back into Australia's creative community. She wrote me a really nice letter of recommendation when I left Private Media and put me in touch with a 'mate' of hers who was, oh you know, just the director of ABC Radio!

When I found out Di was seriously ill three months ago, I meant to email her but couldn't think what to say and how to say it, although I have thought about her and wondered how she was.

This morning, when Sophie drove me to RRR (we are filling in on Aural Text for two weeks), we drove past Di's house – it turns out she lived just around the corner from me. First Dog On The Moon's cartoon beautifully illustrates how sad I feel that I never told her how much I admire her and her work.

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