May 20

Tomorrow, when the war began

John MarsdenLet’s begin finding out about this best-selling novel from the author, John Marsden.

“Hi to all the Aquinas readers!

Ms Kirkland [Osborne] has asked me to say a few words about ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’. So here are my few words. When I was growing up I read a lot of stuff about World War II, and kept wondering what would have happened if Japan had invaded Australia. For one thing, I probably would never have been born, but I did wonder how I would cope if someone invaded us. In real life, probably not very well, but my fantasies were a different story. That’s the whole point of having fantasies of course!

I was also interested in writing a story set in the bush and on farms, as those settings seemed to have disappeared from books in recent years. And I was interested in writing a book that showed teenagers as (I think) they really are, instead of the unpleasant ways they are usually depicted in tabloids and on those boring current affairs television shows.

Once I started really caught up in the action, but also in the development of the characters. I never knew what was going to happen next, and it was fun trying to find solutions for the problems and traps I had created for Ellie and her friends. I realised more and more as I wrote the books that the essence of all novels is that they pose problems and then attempt to solve them. And of course neat slick solutions are never satisfactory, because in real life there are no neat slick solutions…

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading the book, and even some of its sequels perhaps.

All the very best, John Marsden

There’s a comprehensive biography of John Marsden here.

Voted the most popular Australian novel for teenagers, Tomorrow, When The War Began was made into a movie, which became the biggest Australian film at the box office in 2010.

At the Movies, a TV programme where Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton critique the film, contains a summary of the story and some useful insights into the characters, as well as an interview with the film’s script writer and director Stuart Beattie (video).

Chapter summaries


Resources in the Aquinas College Library:

As well as the novel itself, there are several resources in our library that will help you in your study:

DVD0765 Tomorrow, When the War began (movie)

F MAR Tomorrow, When the War began (talking book)

823.09 MAR Tomorrow, When the War began (Heinemann English Project)

823.09 MAR Tomorrow, When the War began (The English Club Resource Packet)

823.09 MAR An instant unit of work on Tomorrow, When the War began…

823.09 MCG Exploring the novel: problems and possibilities (A chapter deals with this novel.)

791.4301 MCG Teaching film as text. 15 (A teaching unit based on the film.)


Character Profiles:

In this interview, actors Caitlin Stasey and Chris Pang talk about the characters they play in the movie (Ellie and Lee).



The following websites contain analyses of characters from the novel. They may vary in the quality of the content and writing.

Tomorrow series Europe (Ellie Linton) – this is a really good analysis of Ellie including quotations from the novel.

On this page, there is an analysis of each character, linked from the Japanese covers halfway down the page (Ellie, Homer Lee, Fiona, Kevin, Robyn, Chris, Corrie).

The Tomorrow series characters, by Richard Simpson (Homer, Fiona, Lee, Robyn, Corrie, Chris)

Infowebs – Characters from the novel.

Mindomo – Mindmap of themes, setting, characters and their issues .


Themes of Tomorrow


If you’ve read this far, you’re obviously a fan, so you’ll find the TWTWB Facebook page here.


For teachers:

Tomorrow Novel Study – handouts

Film Education Teachers’ Notes to accompany the film

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