Fitzroy North house where Helen Garner wrote '70s novel Monkey Grip sells in suburb's third residential sale above $3 million

Fitzroy North house where Helen Garner wrote '70s novel Monkey Grip sells in suburb's third residential sale above $3 million
Jonathan ChancellorDecember 8, 2020

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A Fitzroy North house that has links to Helen Garner’s late 1970s novel Monkey Grip sold at weekend auction for $3,185,000.

More than $2.85 million had been tipped by its Nelson Alexander selling agent Arch Staver.

It ranks as the suburb's third residential sale above $3 million.

Located opposite Edwardes Reserve parklands, the restored early 1900s residence contains elements of Victorian, Art Nouveau and Federation design features.

“Helen Garner wrote the iconic Australian novel Monkey Grip while abiding under this roof,” Staver says.

The style of the Scotchmer Street property is best described as "post-Victorian eclectic", according to the vendor, who bought it in 1972 and rented it out to Garner in the mid-1970s.

The renovated and extended six-bedroom house showcases a mixture of Victorian, Art Nouveau and Federation period features, including a tessellated tile veranda, leadlight windows, ornate lacework, archways and ceiling cornices.

“The original owner was a pattern maker, and his fondness for artistic flourish is immediately evident,” Staver says.

“More recent occupation testifies to the creative atmosphere, with musicians and writers among the long-term residents.”

Garner’s seminal Australian novel Monkey Grip starts with the line, "In the old brown house on the corner, a mile from the middle of the city, we ate bacon every morning of our lives."

It referred to a Victorian residence at 27 Falconer Street.

"It took me a couple of years to write that book, and I moved house a lot back in those days," Garner recently said.

Garner was credited by Good Weekend writer David Laser as being the strongest post-1960s feminist voice in Australian writing following her account of communal living, drug use and single mothers caught in the chemical reactions of their own love affairs in inner-urban Melbourne.

Garner may be famous in Melbourne for her portrayal of Fitzroy, but her most recently reported home was in Flemington in the inner west.



Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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