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.

Gabrielle Carey dies, aged 64

We are shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Gabrielle Carey (1959-2023). Gabrielle was shortlisted for the Fellowship several times and won the Hazel Rowley Highly Commended award in 2020 for her work Only Happiness Here: In search of Elizabeth von Arnim. A tragic loss to the writing world. Our heartfelt condolences to Gabrielle’s family.

Mandy Sayer shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year

Huge congratulations to Mandy Sayer, our 2021 Fellow, who has been shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year in the non-fiction category for her marvellous book Those Dashing McDonagh Sisters: Australia’s first female filmmaking team (NewSouth Books, 2022). The winners will be announced on 4 May 2023 as part of the opening night of the Melbourne Writers Festival.

2023 Hazel Rowley Fellowship winner announced

We’re excited to anounce that the winner of the 2023 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, worth $20,000, is Diane Bell, who is writing a book about the relationship between Ngarrindjeri woman Louisa Karpany, née Kontinyeri (c1840-1921), and George Ezekiel Mason (1811-1876), sub-Protector of Aborigines at Wellington, South Australia.

It was wonderful that Aunty Ellen Trevorrow and Aunty Margaret Alleyn (née Rankine), great-great-granddaughters of Louisa Karpany and George Mason, could join us for the announcement.

We are thrilled that in this, the year of a referendum on an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament, the Fellowship will be used to tell this important cross-cultural story.

This year the judges also decided to give a Highly Commended award of $4,000 to Carolyn Dowley, to assist in her archival research for her biography of Wongutha woman Sadie Canning, MBE, a member of the Stolen Generations, and Western Australia’s first Aboriginal nurse and matron.

The announcement on 8 March at Adelaide Writers’ Week followed the Hazel Rowley Memorial Lecture, which consisted of a conversation between our 2017 Fellow, Ann-Marie Priest, and writer and critic Kerryn Goldsworthy about Ann-Marie’s book My Tongue is My Own: A Life of Gwen Harwood (La Trobe University Press, 2022). The conversation was about ‘The risk and rewards of writing an unauthorised biography’.

More information about our 2023 winner can be found on our Fellowship page.

2023 Fellowship shortlist announced

Nine Australian writers have been shortlisted for the 2023 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship:

  • Belinda Probert (VIC), for her proposal ‘Secrets and War: Ambition and identity in 20th century Britain’, a book about her father, Bill Probert.
  • Aunty Elly Chatfield (NSW), a Gamillaroi woman, writing her memoir and about the broader impact of the Stolen Generations experience.
  • Charlie Ward (NT), writing about Jean Zakaria/Culley and her Australian-Indonesian family.
  • Gabrielle Carey (NSW), for a biography of her father, Alex Carey, an academic and political activist.
  • Jo Oliver (NSW), for a biography of Yvonne Boyd, artist and wife of Arthur Boyd.
  • Diane Bell (ACT), for her proposal ‘The Queen and the Protector’, about Ngarrindjeri woman Louisa Karpany and South Australian ‘Sub-Protector of Aborigines’, George Mason.
  • Jane McCredie (NSW), for a biography of Jane Eastment, one of the so-called ‘incorrigible prostitutes’ sent to Tasmania in 1832.
  • 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.
  • Susan Wyndham (NSW), for a biography of Australian writer Elizabeth Harrower.

Our judges for the 2023 Fellowship are Jeff Sparrow, Clare Wright, Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan.

The winner of the 2023 Fellowship will be announced at Adelaide Writers’ Week on Wednesday 8 March 2023 at a special event celebrating the life and work of Australian poet Gwen Harwood. The event will include a conversation between writer and critic Kerryn Goldsworthy and our 2017 Fellow, Ann-Marie Priest about Ann-Marie’s book My Tongue is My Own: A Life of Gwen Harwood (La Trobe University Press, 2022). The conversation will focus on the challenges and freedoms of writing without the approval of the literary executor. The Fellowship announcement will be followed by a reading of Gwen Harwood’s poems by actor Helen Morse.

Thanks again to our partner, Writers Victoria, which administers the Fellowship.

Mandy Sayer book launched 23 November 2022

Those Dashing McDonagh Sisters  by our 2021 Fellow, Mandy Sayer was launched in Sydney on 23 November by Gillian Armstrong. This is the remarkable story of three trailblazing sisters who were the first women in Australia to form their own film production company. Phyllis, Paulette and Isabel McDonagh produced four feature films and a number of documentaries in the 1920s and 1930s. Their work is still shown internationally, to critical acclaim.

The book is  published by NewSouth Books and has been acclaimed for bringing the story of these important filmmakers to light. For a recent review, click here.




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