Virginia Lowe

  • Doctor of Philosophy

Why did you choose to study at Monash University?

"Having completed my MA, and teaching at the time, I realised that I had a unique resource that I could only explore by doing a PhD at Monash's Faculty of Education."

Highlights of your time at Monash University?

"I enjoyed the study immensely. Having already spent several years lecturing at university, I expected it to be boring, but it wasn't at all – I loved it. There were quite a number of mature aged students at the time and we used to have coffee and lunch together, so we had a real 'solve the problems of the world' university experience too."

Your current or most recent role?

"I'm seen in my industry as a fairly unique link between academe, the Children's Book Council of Australia (of which I have been Victorian President and Judge for Book of the Year Awards) and the actual creators, both through my business and through belonging and attending meetings of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I also belong to a book group discussing children's literature with many authors. The PhD has stood to reinforce all this publicly, and as my business is not with academics anyway, draws quite a bit of respect for the business and the quality of our work.

I have been running a manuscript assessment agency since 1997 with up to six casual assessors and office staff to help, and an illustrator-tutor who helps with the workshops and assesses picture book texts with illustrations. I get enormous pleasure from helping people get their children's stories to publishable standard. It's satisfying to see the improvement, and to help those who really want to learn how to be published.

My record of material that has actually reached publication is equal or better than most literary agents. Reviewing books, and writing the e-bulletin takes a lot of time, but I see it as publicity, and I usually have something new to say about children's literature. I enjoy both the work and the respect it brings."

Advice to future students?

"My advice for recent graduates entering their profession is that wherever you have started off, you will eventually end up as a respected expert in your field if you take the opportunities that life offers. Follow what turns up, even if it doesn't seem to be where you were headed, and it will ultimately work out if you're industrious."