Caroline Baum wins the 2015 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
By: 
Writers Victoria

Photo of Caroline Baum in the Adelaide Women's Memorial Gardens
Caroline Baum

Caroline Baum was announced as the winner of the 2015 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship at the Adelaide Writers Festival.

The announcement followed the Hazel Rowley Memorial Lecture, given by David Marr.

“Caroline Baum’s proposed biography of Lucie Dreyfus is ambitious in scope, international in reach and blazingly original,” said Janine Burke, one of the judges of the Fellowship.

“This is an untold tale. And what a tale!”

Baum will use the $10,000 Fellowship to write a 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.

In Baum’s words, her project “seeks to restore Lucie Dreyfus to her rightful place in history”.

As part of her research, Baum will translate into English the letters between Lucie and Alfred when he was imprisoned on Devil’s Island. These letters, written in French, have not previously been translated. Baum’s biography will focus on aspects of anti-semitism as well as Lucie Dreyfus’s experiences as a Jewish woman living in occupied Paris during the Second World War.

“What I found compelling was Baum’s sensitive, textured approach as well as the personal perspective of her own French/Jewishness,” said Janine Burke. “Together with translating the correspondence between Lucie and Alfred, Baum will contexualise the historical research by connecting with museums, writers and directors.”

“I am confident that Hazel would have been excited by Caroline Baum’s proposal, having written ‘Tête-à-Tête: The Tumultuous Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean- Paul Sartre’, about the lives and relationships of two French intellectuals who also lived through the world wars and anti-semitism,” said Della Rowley, Hazel’s sister.

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

Now in its fourth year, the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship was established to encourage Australian authors to attain a high standard of biography writing and to commemorate the life, ideas and writing of Hazel Rowley. Having published four major books, Rowley established herself as one of the world’s leading literary biographers before dying suddenly in 2011.

Last year’s winner of the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship was Maxine Beneba Clarke for ‘The Hate Race’, her forthcoming memoir about growing up black in white, middle-class Australia. Stephany Steggall was the 2013 winner for her biography of Thomas Keneally and the inaugural 2012 winner was Mary Hoban for her biography of Julia Sorell.

Baum’s project was selected from a high quality shortlist that included projects by Biff Ward (ACT), Ann-Marie Priest (Qld), Ronnie Scott (Vic), Lyn Gallacher (Vic), Patrick Allington (SA), Naomi Parry (NSW), and Barry Divola (NSW).

The prize was judged by Janine Burke and Jim Davidson, together with Hazel’s sister Della Rowley and Hazel’s close friend, Lynn Buchanan. For more information about the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, visit www.hazelrowley.com

Photo by: Deborah Bogle (on Twitter)

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