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Janna Thompson

Three quarter profile of Janna Thompson smiling at the camera, she has white hair and skin and wears a blue shirt and tan coat

Janna Thompson, one of Australia’s most distinguished philosophers, was also a devoted fan of crime fiction and a long-time member of Sisters in Crime Australia. When the pandemic hit Melbourne in 2020, she was inspired to try to try her hand at crime writing.

The result is Lockdown, a novel which explores how the invisibility of older women can provide the prefect cover for criminal investigations. No one would suspect that a retired philosophy professor, who is prone to wearing pastels, would be on the track of uncovering wrong doing.

As a student in Minnesota, USA, Janna worked on the local paper, which taught her how to write direct and engaging prose. She had initially thought to train as a journalist but decided to throw her lot in with philosophy.

After a stint at Manchester University, she migrated to Australia in 1970 and taught at Monash University and then La Trobe University, where she became a professor. She published five books and gained an international reputation, particularly in the field of historical reparations. She also joined the Communist Party of Australia and remained a member until it dissolved in 1991.

Janna was also an avid cyclist, canoeist, bush walker, cross-country skier, and swimmer. She once rode a camel across a desert in India. She died in June 2022, only a few months after being diagnosed with multiple brain tumours. One of her last missions was to arrange for the publication of Lockdown.

She never wore pastels.