On Monday 4 March, in front of a large audience at Adelaide Writers’ Week, author and academic Eleanor Hogan was announced as winner of the 2019 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship for her proposed biography of Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates.
The Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship will provide $15,000 to support Eleanor Hogan’s winning project, ‘Into the Loneliness’, a speculative biographical work about the partnership between journalist Ernestine Hill and self-taught ethnologist Daisy Bates, and their collaboration on the controversial bestseller, ‘The Passing of the Aborigines’, published in 1944.
“Eleanor’s idea of a joint biography of two feisty women within a fascinating and important period of our history won over the judges. Her proposal recalls Hazel’s own interest in exploring the complex relationships between two people whose lives are intertwined,” said Della Rowley, sister of the late biographer in whose name the Fellowship has been established.
Eleanor’s book traces the story of these women’s intense and contrary friendship to reflect on their participation in shaping popular understandings of race, gender and country at that time.
“We are delighted to award the 2019 Fellowship to Eleanor Hogan for her biographical study of two significant and intriguing women who were in many ways ahead of their time and yet in their shared artistic endeavour also reflective of it. We were impressed by the sophisticated structure and interconnected narratives of this biography through which Eleanor Hogan will reconceptualise the shifting, complex, relationships between Daisy Bates, Ernestine Hill and Indigenous Australians,” said Fellowship Judge Jenny Hocking.
“Eleanor Hogan’s study of Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates promises to be a fascinating exploration of women’s relationships in 20th century Australia, even as it offers fresh insight into the problematic formation of an ethnological consensus about Indigenous Australia,” commented Fellowship Judge, Jeff Sparrow.
There was strong competition for this year’s Fellowship, which is administered in partnership with Writers Victoria. Eleanor Hogan’s project was selected from an outstanding shortlist of Australia-wide proposals, from emerging and established writers, Maggie Tonkin, Brigitta Olubus, Diana James, Stephenie Cahalan, Gabrielle Carey, James Boyce, and James Mairata.
The announcement was preceded by the Hazel Rowley Memorial lecture, which was given by Maria Tumarkin. Maria is the author of four acclaimed books of ideas. Her latest book, ‘Axiomatic’, won the 2018 Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Best Writing Award, was shortlisted for the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, and is longlisted for the 2019 Stella Prize.
The Fellowship was judged by Jenny Hocking, Jeff Sparrow, Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan.
Now in its eighth year, the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship has a significant track record in enabling biographers and writers of memoirs to complete and publish their works. Two of the Fellows have already published – Maxine Beneba Clarke (‘The Hate Race’) and Stephany Steggall (‘Interestingly Enough…’) – while another three prize winners are due to be published this year: the first fellow in 2012, Mary Hoban (Biography of Julia Sorell Arnold); the 2016 fellow, Matthew Lamb (Biography of Frank Moorhouse); and the highly commended winner in 2017, Suzanne Spunner (Biography of Rover Thomas).
About the previous Fellows
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 later this year.
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.
Stephany 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), has her biography ‘An Unconventional Wife: The Life of Julia Sorell Arnold’, being published in April this year by Scribe.
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.