2024 Fellowship event at the Wheeler Centre

The Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship and Writers Victoria invite you to join us for a special biography event on Wednesday 13 March 2024 at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne for the announcement of the 2024 Fellowship winner. The announcement will follow a Q&A between Adolfo Aranjuez and Mandy Sayer, our 2021 Fellow, discussing her book Those Dashing McDonagh Sisters: Australia’s first female filmmaking team (NewSouth Books, 2022)

The extraordinary McDonagh sisters wrote, directed and acted in their own silent movies – forming their own film production company. Between 1926 and 1933 the McDonagh sisters produced four feature films and transformed Australian cinema from outback films to urban modernity. Paulette, the youngest, was one of only five women film directors in the world, Phyllis produced and directed, and Isabel, the eldest, acted superbly in all the female leads. The event will include film clips from the McDonagh sisters’ films as restored by the National Film and Sound Archive.

This is a free event, but bookings are essential. BOOK here.

2024 Fellowship shortlist announced

Nine Australian writers have been shortlisted for the 2024 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship:

  • Carolyn Dowley (WA), for a biography of Sadie Canning, a Wongutha woman, a member of the Stolen Generations and Western Australia’s first Aboriginal nurse.
  • Charlie Ward (NT), writing about Jean Zakaria and her Australian-Indonesian family.
  • Erik Jensen (VIC), writing about Rafael Bonachela and the Sydney Dance Company.
  • Helen Trinca (NSW), for a biography of Australian writer Elizabeth Harrower.
  • Jane McCredie (NSW), for a biography of Jane Eastment, one of the so-called ‘incorrigible prostitutes’ sent to Tasmania in 1832.
  • Kate Fullagar (ACT), for a biography of Marguerite Wolters, an 18th century spy mistress to empires and revolutionists.
  • Michelle Scott Tucker (VIC), for a biography of Louisa Lawson, newspaper proprietor, poet, suffragist and mother of Henry Lawson.
  • Sophie Cull (USA/NSW), writing about prison lawyer Calvin Duncan and his struggle for justice in the prison system in USA.
  • Suzanne Robinson (VIC), for her proposal ‘Becoming Modern: Australian women composers in London between the wars’.

It is exciting to see the varied approaches to biography among the proposals, with submissions from both emerging and established writers. Our judges for the 2024 Fellowship are Clare Wright, Christos Tsiolkas, Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan.

Stage production of The Hate Race

The Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne is staging a production of Maxine Beneba Clarke’s book The Hate Race (Hachette, 2016). It will be on from 23 February to 17 March 2024. If you’re in Melbourne during that time, please take the chance to see this important production. Maxine was our 2014 Fellow and we’re really looking forward to seeing her award-winning memoir on stage. To quote from The Malthouse Theatre, ‘The Hate Race is more than a theatrical experience—it is a call to action. This is how we change.’

Frank Moorhouse biography published

We are incredibly pleased to announce that Volume one of a two-volume biography of Frank Moorhouse by Matthew Lamb, our 2016 Fellow, has just been released. Frank Moorhouse: Strange Paths is published by Knopf, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Matthew has recently published an article in a Friday Essay for the Conversation where he discusses in detail how a biographer balances storytelling with a search for the truth. He talks compellingly about the complications and dilemmas a biographer faces – for example, what to do when the ‘legend’ conflicts with the facts, and how to avoid letting a friendship with your subject cloud your understanding of him as a biographical subject. Matthew also has a Substack newsletter where he has launched an occasional series on the ongoing project of writing Frank Moorhouse’s life, including reflections on the art of biography, literary culture and democracy (Public Things).

You can read reviews of Matthew’s book on The Guardian website, the Books+Publishing website and Inside Story website.

We congratulate Matthew on this magnificent book and urge you to buy a copy.


Ann-Marie Priest wins the 2023 National Biography Award

We are immensely pleased to announce that Ann-Marie Priest, our 2017 Fellow, has won the National Biography Award for her biography of Australian poet Gwen Harwood, My Tongue is My Own: A Life of Gwen Harwood (La Trobe University Press/Black Inc, 2022). This is the first biography of Gwen Harwood, one of Australia’s finest poets. The judges were unanimous in their praise of Ann-Marie’s research, scholarship and analysis, describing it as a ‘perceptive’ and ‘creative’ biography. Huge congratulations to Ann-Marie for a well-deserved win. We’re so proud to have played a part in supporting her work.

National Library Canberra acquires Hazel Rowley Papers

We have some exciting news for researchers and biographers.

Hazel Rowley lodged her Papers in relation to her Christina Stead biography with the National Library of Australia (NLA) back in 1996. The NLA has now acquired the rest of Hazel’s Papers in relation to her biographies of Richard Wright (2001), Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (2006), and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (2010). They have also acquired her Papers in relation to her essays and her other writing.

The NLA was very pleased to acquire the collection. It includes an original letter of Simone de Beauvoir and original letters of Christina Stead. The Papers are catalogued under the heading Papers of Hazel Rowley. For more information about Hazel Rowley and her writing, go to our Hazel Rowley page.



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