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Kate Fullagar Wins The 2024 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship

Portrait for Kate Fullagar

On Wednesday 13 March, in front of a large audience at The Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, social and cultural historian Kate Fullagar (ACT) was announced as the winner of the 2024 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, worth $20,000.

Kate’s proposed biography, ‘The secret life of Marguerite Wolters’, is about an 18th century spy mistress whose espionage work seems to have contributed significantly to the British decision in 1786 to establish a penal colony in New South Wales.

“The proposal intrigued the judges, as Kate herself had been intrigued when she first came across Marguerite Wolters while researching her biography Bennelong & Phillip,” said Della Rowley, sister of late biographer Hazel Rowley.

“Kate wanted to know more about this mysterious and unusual Dutch woman who was so influential in British political history.”

“Kate Fullagar’s research promises a potentially paradigm-shifting understanding of Australian history, with the startling revelation that a woman was one of the chief architects of British colonial expansionism. We cannot wait to hear more!” said Fellowship Judge Clare Wright.

“We were impressed and excited by the exceptional standard of the submissions in the shortlist, a testament to the vitality and curiosity in contemporary writing of history and biography,” commented Fellowship Judge, Christos Tsiolkas.

“There was strong competition for this year’s Fellowship,” said Della Rowley, “with nine writers on the shortlist, all worthy contenders.”

The shortlisted writers included Suzanne Robinson, Erik Jensen, Helen Trinca, Charlie Ward, Michelle Scott Tucker, Carolyn Dowley, Sophie Cull and Jane McCredie. This year’s Fellowship was judged by Clare Wright, Christos Tsiolkas, Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan.

The announcement was preceded by the Hazel Rowley Memorial lecture, which was a conversation between biographer Mandy Sayer (2021 Fellow) and Adolfo Aranjuez about Mandy’s biography, Those Dashing McDonagh Sisters: Australia’s first female filmmaking team (NewSouth Books, 2022).

Now in its 13th year, the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, established to commemorate the life and writing of Hazel Rowley, has a significant track record in enabling biographers and writers of memoir to complete and publish their works. Matthew Lamb, Mandy Sayer, Ann-Marie Priest, Mary Hoban, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Jacqueline Kent, Stephany Stegall, Gabrielle Carey and Eleanor Hogan have all published with the help of the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship.

The Fellowship is administered in partnership with Writers Victoria and the Australian Communities Foundation.

For more information about the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, visit website: www.hazelrowley.com.

About the 2024 Fellow

Kate Fullagar is a social and cultural historian. Her most recent book is Bennelong & Phillip: A History Unravelled (Simon & Schuster, 2023). Her previous book, The Warrior, the Voyager, and the Artist: Three Lives in an Age of Empire (Yale, 2020), won the 2021 Douglas Stewart Literary Prize for Non-Fiction and the 2020 NSW Premier’s General History Prize.

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