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Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship

A photo of Hazel Rowley

The Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, valued at $20,000, supports Australian writers working on biography projects. The annual Fellowship commemorates the work of Hazel Rowley (1951–2011).

2024 Shortlist

  • 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 author 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’.

Winner to be announced: Wednesday 13 March 2024 at The Wheeler Centre, following the Hazel Rowley Memorial Lecture. 

The Fellowship is open to Australian citizens and permanent residents. Up to $20,000 is awarded for travel and research to further a writing proposal or work in progress. It may not be used to pay for a research assistant or to subsidise a publication.

The focus is on biography (including memoir), but extends to an aspect of cultural or social history compatible with Hazel’s interest areas. Preference is given to projects that are about ‘risk-taking’ and expanding horizons, promote discussion of ideas, and make a significant contribution to public intellectual life.

Applications open each year on 1 October and close on 16 November, the shortlist is announced in the following January and the Fellowship is awarded in March.

About Hazel Rowley and the Fellowship

The Fellowship was established by the family and friends of Hazel Rowley, one of the world’s leading biographers, to commemorate her life and writing legacy following her death in 2011. Hazel left behind a legacy of great writing, a passion for words and for exploring the lives of exceptional men and women.

Following her award-winning biography of the Australian novelist Christina Stead, (Christina Stead: A Biography, 1993), Hazel went on to establish an international career with a biography of the African-American novelist Richard Wright (Richard Wright: The Life and Times, 2001); an examination of the relationship of the French philosophers Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (Tête-à-Tête: The Tumultuous Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, 2005); and her last book, an insight into the marriage of the Roosevelts, Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage (2010).

The covers of Hazel Rowley's biographies: Christina Stead: A Biography; Richard Wright: The Life and Times; Tête-à-Tête: The Tumultuous Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre; and Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage.

Although most recognised for these four outstanding biographies, Hazel also wrote and published many essays, articles and book reviews. She was well known as a lively and engaging public speaker, appearing at numerous book festivals and literary events around the world. You can read more about Hazel’s ideas and the experiences she had while writing her biographies in Life as Art: The biographical writing of Hazel Rowley (2021), a collection of Hazel’s articles, essays, talks and diary entries compiled by Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan.

Read more about Hazel Rowley and the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship at hazelrowley.com.


2023 Fellow

Diane Bell was announced the winner of the 2023 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship on 8 March 2023, at Adelaide Writers Week, following the Hazel Rowley Memorial Lecture.

Diane was awarded $20,000 for her proposed biography of the relationship between Ngarrindjeri woman Louisa Karpany, née Kontinyeri (c1840–1921) and George Mason (1811–1876), sub-Protector of Aborigines at Wellington, South Australia.

A highly-commended award was also given to Carolyn Dowley for her initial archival research for a biography of Wongutha woman Sadie Canning, MBE, a member of the Stolen Generations, and Western Australia’s first Aboriginal nurse and matron.

Read the announcement of the 2023 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship here.

Past Fellows

2022

Naomi Parry Duncan, for her proposal telling the story of Gai-mariagal man Musquito, who was hanged in Tasmania in 1825. Musquito, originally from Port Jackson, was a resistance fighter who was exiled to Norfolk Island and taken to Van Dieman’s Land – lutruwita, palawa/pakana country.

Read the announcement of the 2022 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship here.

2021

Mandy Sayer, for her proposed biography of Australian silent filmmakers the McDonagh sisters, Paulette, Isabelle, and Phyllis. Between 1926 and 1933 the three sisters wrote, produced, directed and acted in several films.

Read the announcement of the 2021 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship here.

2020

Lance Richardson, for his proposed biography of writer, naturalist and Zen Buddhist, Peter Matthiessen. Lance is now working on the biography, titled True Nature: The Pilgrimage of Peter Matthiessen, to be published by Pantheon (US) and Chatto & Windus (UK).

Read the announcement of the 2020 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship here.

2019

Eleanor Hogan, for her project Into the Loneliness, a speculative biographical work about the collaboration between journalist Ernestine Hill and self-taught ethnologist Daisy Bates. Eleanor’s biography, Into the Loneliness: The unholy alliance of Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates, was published by NewSouth Books in 2021.

Read the announcement of the 2019 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship here.

2018

Jacqueline Kent for her proposed biography of Vida Goldstein (1869-1949), Australia’s most celebrated crusader for the rights of women. Jacqueline’s biography, Vida: A woman for our time, was published by Penguin Random House’s Viking imprint in 2020.

A Special Hazel Rowley Award was also awarded to Drusilla Modjeska for her proposed memoir, First Half Second: Volume 2, to follow up to her acclaimed memoir Second Half First.

Read the announcement of the 2018 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship here.

2017

Anne-Marie Priest, for her biography of Australian poet Gwen Harwood (1920-1995). Anne-Marie’s biography, My Tongue Is My Own: A Life of Gwen Harwood, was published in 2022 by La Trobe University Press.

A highly-commended award was also given to Suzanne Spunner for a biography of East Kimberley artist Rover Thomas, which she is currently working on.

2016

Matthew Lamb for a cultural biography of the Australian writer Frank Moorhouse. Volume one of Matthew’s two-volume biography of Frank Moorhouse, Frank Moorhouse: Strange Paths was published in 2023 by Knopf, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

2015

Caroline Baum for a biography of Lucie Dreyfus (1870-1945), who was the main support of husband Alfred Dreyfus during the political scandal of the Dreyfus Affair. Caroline is currently working on this biography.

2014

Maxine Beneba Clarke for her autobiography The Hate Race, a memoir about growing up black in white middle-class Australia. The Hate Race was published by Hachette Australia in 2016, and won the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Award Multicultural NSW Award. It was also shortlisted for the 2018 Nita B Kibble Award, the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the 2017 ABIA Biography Book of the Year, the 2017 Indie Award for Non-Fiction, and the 2017 Stella Prize.

2013

Stephany Steggall, for a biography of Thomas Keneally. The biography, Interestingly Enough…: the life of Tom Keneally, was published by Nero in 2015.

2012

Mary Hoban, who worked on a biography of Julia Arnold (nee Sorell, 1826-1888). The biography, An Unconventional Wife: the life of Julia Sorell Arnold, was published by Scribe in 2019.

The Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship is supported by the Hazel Rowley Literary Fund; a sub-fund of Australian Communities Foundation.

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