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History

An award for a NON-FICTION work, including biography and autobiography, of sustained quality and distinction with an Australian theme.

Winners

2017 winner Judith Raphael Buckrich

For Acland Street: The Grand Lady of St Kilda

2016 winner y separately published work icon The Boy Behind the Curtain Tim Winton , Melbourne : Penguin , 2016 9481193 2016 selected work autobiography essay

'The remarkable true stories in The Boy Behind the Curtain reveal an intimate and rare view of Tim Winton’s imagination at work and play.

'A chronicler of sudden turnings, brutal revelations and tender sideswipes, Tim Winton has always been in the business of trouble. In his novels chaos waits in the wings and ordinary people are ambushed by events and emotions beyond their control. But as these extraordinarily powerful memoirs show, the abrupt and the headlong are old familiars to the author himself, for in many ways his has been a life shaped by havoc.

'In The Boy Behind the Curtain Winton reflects on the accidents, traumatic and serendipitous, that have influenced his view of life and fuelled his distinctive artistic vision. On the unexpected links between car crashes and religious faith, between surfing and writing, and how going to the wrong movie at the age of eight opened him up to a life of the imagination. And in essays on class, fundamentalism, asylum seekers, guns and the natural world he reveals not only the incidents and concerns that have made him the much-loved writer he is, but some of what unites the life and the work.

'By turns impassioned, funny, joyous, astonishing, this is Winton’s most personal book to date, an insight into the man who’s held us enthralled for three decades and helped us reshape our view of ourselves. Behind it all, from risk-taking youth to surprise-averse middle age, has been the crazy punt of staking everything on becoming a writer.' (Publication summary)

2015 winner y separately published work icon Bearing Witness : The Remarkable Life of Charles Bean, Australia's Greatest War Correspondent Peter Rees , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2015 8361614 2015 single work biography

'Charles Bean was Australia's greatest and most famous war correspondent. He is the journalist who told Australia about the horrors of Gallipoli and the Western Front. He is the historian who did so much to create the Anzac legend and shape the emerging Australian identity in the years after Federation. He is the patriot who was central to the establishment of one of this country's most important cultural institutions, the Australian War Memorial. Yet we know so little about him as a man. Bearing Witness rectifies that omission in our national biography.

'This is the first complete portrait of Charles Bean. It is the story of a boy from Bathurst and his search for truth: in the bush, on the battlefield and in the writing of the official history of Australia's involvement in World War I. But beyond this, it is a powerful and detailed exploration of his life, his accomplishments and a marriage that sustained and enriched him.

'Insightful, unexpected and compelling, Bearing Witness gives rich personality to a remarkable life.' (Publication summary)

2014 winner y separately published work icon The Bush : Travels in the Heart of Australia Don Watson , Scoresby : Penguin , 2014 7838248 2014 single work prose travel

'Most Australians live in cities and cling to the coastal fringe, yet our sense of what an Australian is – or should be – is drawn from the vast and varied inland called the bush. But what do we mean by 'the bush', and how has it shaped us?

'Starting with his forebears' battle to drive back nature and eke a living from the land, Don Watson explores the bush as it was and as it now is: the triumphs and the ruination, the commonplace and the bizarre, the stories we like to tell about ourselves and the national character, and those we don't. Via mountain ash and mallee, the birds and the beasts, slaughter, fire, flood and drought, swagmen, sheep and their shepherds, the strange and the familiar, the tragedies and the follies, the crimes and the myths and the hope – here is a journey that only our leading writer of non-fiction could take us on.

'At once magisterial in scope and alive with telling, wry detail, The Bush lets us see our landscape and its inhabitants afresh, examining what we have made, what we have destroyed, and what we have become in the process.

'No one who reads it will look at this country the same way again. ' (Publication summary)

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