2020 Hazel Rowley Fellowship shortlist announced

Monday, January 20, 2020
By: 
Writers Victoria and the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship

Photo of Hazel Rowley outdoors

Nine Australian writers have been shortlisted for the 2020 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship worth $15,000. 

The Fellowship, now in its ninth year, attracted over 60 applications from biographers and memoir writers across Australia.

“It is very exciting to see the diverse range of subjects and literary approaches to biographical writing around Australia,” said Della Rowley, sister of biographer Hazel Rowley. “This year we received a record number of applications coming from all States and Territories of Australia and the strength of the proposals has been reassuring.”

“It is nine years since my sister died and we began the Fellowship, so it is wonderful that Hazel’s legacy continues to encourage and support Australian writers and biographers.”

“Any one of the shortlisted entries would make for fascinating reading,” said Angela Savage, Director of Writers Victoria, which administers the award. “And there’s a good chance we’ll see some of them in print, given the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship’s success to date in nurturing works to publication.”

The Fellowship, established to commemorate the life, ideas and writing of Hazel Rowley (1951–2011) awards $15,000 to an Australian writer to support the writing and research of a biographical work.

The shortlist

  • Margo Beasley (NSW) for a biography of Australian doctor and political activist Eric Dark
  • Diane Bell (ACT) for her proposed monograph ‘The Queen and the Protector’, about Ngarrindjeri woman Louisa Karpany and South Australian ‘Sub-Protector of Aborigines’ George Mason
  • Tegan Bennett Daylight (NSW) for a biography of New Zealand-born writer Ruth Park
  • Stephenie Cahalan (Tas) writing about Australian artist Jean Bellette
  • Gabrielle Carey (NSW) for a biography of Australian writer Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Madelaine Dickie (WA) for a biography of Indigenous leader Wayne Bergmann, a Kimberley Traditional Owner
  • Shakira Hussein (Vic) for her memoir ‘Nine Eleven-itis’
  • Lance Richardson (NSW/USA) writing about American writer, naturalist and Zen Buddhist Peter Matthiessen               
  • Suzanne Robinson (Vic) for her proposal ‘Decadent Melbourne’, about art, artists and immorality in the 1890s

Award Night

The winner will be announced at a special event at The Wheeler Centre on Friday 20 March 2020. This will follow the Hazel Rowley Memorial lecture to be given by biographer Jacqueline Kent, entitled ‘Making Characters: biography and memoir’. Having written both biography and memoir, Jacqueline will discuss the different challenges and privacy considerations of each.

The 2020 Fellowship will be judged by biographers Jenny Hocking and Jeff Sparrow, along with Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan, Hazel’s close friend.

About the Previous Fellows

The 2019 Fellowship was awarded to Eleanor Hogan (NT) for her project on the friendship between Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates.

In 2018, the Fellowship was awarded to Jacqueline Kent (NSW) for a biography of suffragist Vida Goldstein.

In 2017, Ann-Marie Priest (Queensland) was awarded the Fellowship for her biography of renowned Australian poet Gwen Harwood.

The 2016, the Fellowship went to Matthew Lamb (Tasmania) for 'Frank Moorhouse: A Discontinuous Life', to be published by Vintage.

In 2015, the Fellowship was awarded to Caroline Baum (NSW), for a biography of Lucie Dreyfus (1870-1945).

The 2014 Fellowship went to Maxine Beneba Clarke (Victoria) for her memoir, 'The Hate Race' – about growing up black in white middle-class Australia. It was published by Hachette in 2016 and won several awards.

Stephanie Steggall (Queensland) used the 2013 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship to write a biography of Thomas Keneally, 'Interestingly Enough...' published by Black Inc. in 2015.

The inaugural recipient of the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship in 2012, Mary Hoban (Victoria), had her biography 'An Unconventional Wife: The Life of Julia Sorell Arnold' published in April 2019.

About Hazel Rowley

“My books are about people who had the courage to break out of their confined world and help others to do the same” – Hazel Rowley

Before her death in 2011, Hazel wrote four critically acclaimed biographies: ‘Christina Stead: A Biography (1993)’, ‘Richard Wright: The Life and Times (2001)’, ‘Tête-à-Tête: The Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre’ (2005) and ‘Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage’ (2010). Erudite and accessible, these studies brought fresh attention to the lives and works of significant figures both nationally and internationally.