Previous Fellows


2018 | Jacqueline Kent

Author photoJacqueline Kent (NSW) was announced as the winner of the 2018 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship at the Wheeler Centre on 8 March 2018.The announcement followed the Hazel Rowley Memorial Lecture given by Jenny Hocking, one of the Rowley judges and the award-winning biographer of Gough Whitlam. Jenny’s talk was on the ‘Politics of Biography’, including her attempts to obtain the release of letters between Sir John Kerr and the Palace.

Jacqueline is writing a biography of Australian suffragist Vida Goldstein (1869-1949). Vida Goldstein was a tireless political campaigner and advocate for votes for women. She stood for the Senate in 1903, the first year that women could vote and stand for Parliament in Australia.

Jacqueline has previously published the award-winning A Certain Style: Beatrice Davis, A Literary Life. Her book An Exacting Heart: The Story of Hephzibah Menuhin was shortlisted for many awards, and her book The Making of Julia Gillard was a best seller, updated three times, with a sequel Take Your Best Shot.

2018 | Special Hazel Rowley Award to Drusilla Modjeska

This year the judges decided to give a special award of an equal amount ($15,000) to Drusilla Modjeska (NSW) in recognition of her significant contribution to the art of biography and memoir over many years, spanning personal memoir and more traditional biography. Drusilla has been a great innovator in her writing, with books such as Poppy, The Orchard and Stravinsky’s Lunch. Drusilla is currently working on the second instalment of her memoir, to be called ‘First Half Second’.

2017 | Ann-Marie Priest

Ann-Marie (2)FlwspAnn-Marie Priest (Queensland) was announced as the winner of the 2017 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship at the Adelaide Writers Festival on 9 March 2017. The announcement followed the Hazel Rowley Memorial Lecture, given by Maxine Beneba Clarke, the 2014 recipient of the Fellowship for her memoir The Hate Race.

Ann-Marie is using the $15,000 Fellowship to write a biography of Australian poet Gwen Harwood (1920-1995). She has spent time in Tasmania to immerse herself in the places where the adult Harwood lived, worked and wrote. Ann-Marie has written an article about how she used the Fellowship. This article was originally published in The Victorian Writer.

Ann-Marie works part-time as a lecturer at Central Queensland University in Rockhampton. She has previously published a book on the love lives of 20th century writers, called Great Writers, Great Loves: The Reinvention of Love in the Twentieth Century. Her forthcoming book, A Free Flame, on the role of vocation in the lives of four Australian writers (including Gwen Harwood), will be published by UWA Publishing.

2017 | Highly-commended award

For the first time, in 2017 the Fellowship has also made a highly-commended award of $3,000 to Suzanne Spunner (Victoria), who is writing a biography of East Kimberley artist Rover Thomas. Rover Thomas was one of Australia’s most successful Indigenous artists and his works command record-breaking prices. Suzanne is a playwright and art historian.

2016 | Matthew Lamb

Matthew @ podium_cropMatthew Lamb (Tasmania) was awarded the 2016 Fellowship for his proposed cultural biography of the Australian writer Frank Moorhouse.

Matthew was announced as the winner of the 2016 Fellowship at an event at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on 9 March. At the same event three previous recipients of the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship – Stephany Steggall, Maxine Beneba Clarke and Caroline Baum – spoke about the Art of Biography on a panel chaired by Janine Burke, one of our judges.

Matthew is the editor of the Review of Australian Fiction, which he founded in 2012. Since 2013 he has also been the editor of Island magazine, a role he left in order to work on the Moorhouse biography, among other writing projects.

2015 | Caroline Baum

Caro_070_01Caroline Baum (New South Wales) was announced as the winner of the 2015 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship at the Adelaide Writers Week on 4 March 2015. The announcement followed the Hazel Rowley Memorial Lecture, given by David Marr


Caroline was awarded the Fellowship for a proposed biography of Lucie Dreyfus (1870-1945). Lucie Dreyfus was married to Alfred Drefyus, the French artillery officer who was at the centre of one of the most divisive political scandals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Caroline is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She is Editorial Director of Booktopia, Australia’s largest online bookseller.

(Photo: Wendy McDougall)

2014 | Maxine Beneba Clarke

maxine-BENEBA-CLARKE-660x4001469173101329Maxine Beneba Clarke (Victoria) was announced as the winner of the 2014 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship at the Writers Victoria Salon on 11 March 2014.

Maxine used the fellowship to work on her proposed autobiography, The Hate Race – a memoir about growing up black in white middle-class Australia. The Hate Race was subsequently published by Hachette in August 2016. In 2017 Maxine won the Multicultural NSW Award for The Hate Race in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. The Hate Race was also shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for non-fiction, the Indie Prize, the Stella Prize and the ABIA 2017 Biography Book of the Year.

The fellowship allowed the Caribbean-Australian writer to ‘go back to where she came from’ – to travel from Australia to England re-tracing her parents’ journey, from England to the Caribbean re-tracing her grandparents’ migration, and from the Caribbean to Africa in search of the ancestors transported to the Caribbean as slaves.

“The opportunity to research and re-trace my family’s migration path will not only be momentous on a personal and emotional level, but will, I hope, result in a work of non-fiction which significantly contributes toward contemporary post-slavery dialogue on race, migration, colour, ancestry, genocide, and the various places we think of as home,” Maxine said.

In 2013, Maxine won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript with her debut short story collection, Foreign Soil (published by Hachette Australia in May 2014). Maxine is also the author of the poetry collections Gil Scott Heron is on Parole and Nothing Here Needs Fixing, as well as being an Australian slam poetry champion.

(Photo: Mario Varrichio)

2013 | Stephany Steggall

StephanyStegall_Cover Pic9781863957588The 2013 award went to Stephany Steggall (Queensland) for a biography of Australian writer Thomas Keneally. Her book Interestingly Enough…the Life of Tom Keneally was subsequently published in 2015 by Nero.

The presentation of the award to Stephany followed the 2013 Hazel Rowley Memorial Lecture given by Alex Miller at Adelaide Writers Week on 6 March 2013 and reported on in The Age.

Alex Miller’s lecture has been published in his book The Simplest Words (2015, Allen & Unwin) in the chapter ‘A Circle of Kindred Spirits’, p.299. The lecture was also published in Southerly magazine in 2013 (Vol 73, No 3).

Stephany has previously published biographies of Colin Thiele (2004), Ivan Southall (2006) and Bruce Dawe (2009).  She has worked at AustLit as a research assistant and at the time of winning the Fellowship was working on a history of the Australian Society of Authors, Status and Sugar, which was published in 2013.

2012 | Mary Hoban

Mary Hoban pic9781925713442_72dpiThe inaugural winner of the 2012 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship was Mary Hoban (Vic) for a biography of Julia Arnold, née Sorell (1826-1888). Mary’s book, An Unconventional Wife: The life of Julia Sorell Arnold, was published by Scribe in April 2019. An Unconventional Wife was shortlisted for the Mark and Evette Moran Nib Literary Award 2019.

Although not a well-known figure herself, Julia Sorell was famously well-connected. Born in Hobart, Julia was the granddaughter of Lieutenant Governor William Sorell. She was the daughter-in-law of Reverend Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School (as pictured in Tom Brown’s Schooldays) and sister-in-law to the poet Matthew Arnold. Her daughter Mary was the famous Victorian novelist Mrs Humphry Ward and her grandchildren were novelist Aldous Huxley, scientist Julian Huxley and author Janet Penrose.

The fellowship announcement followed a discussion at the Wheeler Centre between novelist Alex Miller and historian Jim Davidson to mark the first anniversary of Hazel Rowley’s death. A video of the event is available at the Wheeler Centre website. Mary Hoban spoke about her project with Jim Davidson and Della Rowley on Books and Arts Daily with Michael Cathcart on 15 March 2012. Click here for Podcast.

In 2016 Mary wrote an article on ‘The Challenge of Biography’, which can be found on the Writers Victoria website.