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Vale Jen Hutchison

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

It is with immense sadness that we advise that Jen Hutchison died at home peacefully today in Melbourne with her family by her side. She had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at the end of May. In true dynamic ‘Jen style’ - two days after her cancer diagnosis, she submitted her Master’s thesis “An Autoethnographic Epistolary Study’ on the culture of silence surrounding abuse, and graduated RMIT’s Master of Writing & Publishing, with Distinction.

Jen was nothing short of remarkable.

When her son Raif died 10 years ago, she decided to walk the ancient pathways of the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain (800kms) with his ashes, journaling along the way, without fail, every foot-throbbing weary night. After thirty-five days of trekking, she returned home, and drawing from her journals, wrote Motherling, a poignant, brave memoir of that life-saving walk and her growing adjustment to life without Raif. Incase you missed it when it aired in April 2019, here’s Jen on the ABC chatting with Myf Warhurst about it all.

As someone who was always writing, be it letters, journals, board papers, grant submissions or taking writing classes, Jen created Journeys to Words as a WordPress blog back in 2014, and her anecdotal observations and life lessons soon garnered heartfelt interest and a loyal readership. As a mature age writer herself, she soon realised that, as an age group, they were overlooked by the traditional publishing industry and needed a platform and representation. So, naturally, at the age of 67, Jen filled that gap and became a publisher, to bring their writing to the market! JTWP officially launched in May 2019 at the State Library of Victoria and went on to publish seven books before the world ground to an abrupt halt with pandemic lockdowns.

A sharp editor and writing mentor to so many, Jen ran writers’ retreats and masterclass workshops to arm her writers with the techniques publishers expect to see in submission ready manuscripts. Her legacy lives on in all of us whose lives she touched, and we learned from her in a myriad of ways. It is fitting that Suzanne Frankham’s debut crime novel, Shadow Over Edmund Street, published by Jen, has just been shortlisted for two debut book awards.

A memorial service will be held for Jen’s family and friends and a link to livestream it will be posted here and on social media soon.


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