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Non-Fiction Book Award
Subcategory of Queensland Literary Awards
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Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2021

winner Luke Stegemann for 'Amnesia Road'.

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon Olive Cotton : A Life in Photography Helen Ennis , Pymble : Fourth Estate , 2019 16573779 2019 single work biography

'A landmark biography of a singular and important Australian photographer, Olive Cotton, by an award-winning writer - beautifully written and deeply moving.

'Olive Cotton was one of Australia's pioneering modernist photographers, a woman whose talent was recognised as equal to her first husband's, Max Dupain, and a significant artist in her own right. Together, Olive and Max could have been Australia's answer to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, or Ray and Charles Eames. The photographic work they produced during the 1930s and '40s was extraordinary and distinctively their own.

'But in the early 1940s Cotton quit their marriage and Sydney studio to live with second husband Ross McInerney and raise their two children in a tent on a farm near Cowra - later moving to a hut that had no running water, electricity or telephone. Despite these barriers, and not having access to a darkroom, Olive continued her photography but away from the public eye. Then a landmark exhibition in Sydney in 1985 shot her back to fame, followed by a major retrospective at the AGNSW in 2000. Australian photography would never be same.

'This is a moving and powerful story about talent, creativity and women, and about what it means for an artist to manage the competing demands of art, work, marriage, children and family.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2019

winner y separately published work icon An Unconventional Wife : The Life of Julia Sorell Arnold Mary Hoban , Brunswick : Scribe , 2019 15606970 2019 single work biography

'Julia Sorell was a colonial belle from Tasmania, vivacious and warm-hearted. Her marriage to Tom Arnold in 1850 propelled her into one of the most renowned families in England and into a circle that included Lewis Carroll and George Eliot. Her eldest daughter became a bestselling novelist, while her grandchildren included the writer Aldous Huxley and the evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley. With these family connections, Julia is a presence in many documented and famous lives, but she is a mostly silent presence.

'What began as a marriage born of desire soon turned into a relationship riven by discord. Tom’s sudden decision to become a Catholic and Julia’s refusal to convert with him plunged their lives into a crisis wherein their great love for each other would be pitted against their profoundly different understandings of marriage and religion. It was a conflict that would play out over three decades in a time when science challenged religion, when democracy challenged aristocracy, when women began to challenge men. It was a conflict that would not only shape their own lives and that of their children, but also touch the lives of all those who came into contact with them.

'Told with the pace, depth, and psychological richness of a great novel, An Unconventional Wife is a riveting biography that shines a shaft of light on a hidden but captivating life.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon Tracker Tracker : Stories of Tracker Tilmouth Alexis Wright , Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2017 11570382 2017 single work biography

'The legendary Indigenous activist ‘Tracker’ Tilmouth died in Darwin in 2015. Taken from his family as a child and brought up on a mission on Croker Island, he returned home to transform the world of Aboriginal politics. He worked tirelessly for Aboriginal self-determination, creating opportunities for land use and economic development in his many roles, including Director of the Central Land Council. He was a visionary and a projector of ideas, renowned for his irreverent humour and his colourful anecdotes. The memoir was composed by Wright from interviews with Tracker before he died, as well as with his family, friends and colleagues, weaving his and their stories together into a book that is as much a tribute to the role played by storytelling in contemporary Aboriginal life as it is to the legacy of a remarkable man.'  (Publication summary)

Year: 2017

winner y separately published work icon Saltwater : An Epic Fight for Justice in the Tropics We Come From Saltwater People Cathy McLennan , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2016 8150555 2016 single work autobiography

'When Cathy McLennan first steps into Townsville’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service as a young graduate she isn’t expecting a major murder case to land on her desk. The accused are four teenage boys whose family connections stretch across the water to Palm Island.

'As she battles to prove herself in the courtroom, Cathy realises that the truth is far more complex than she first thought. She starts to question who are the criminals and who are the victims.

'Saltwater tells the compelling story of one lawyer’s fight for justice amongst the beauty and the violence of this tropical paradise.' (Publication summary)

Works About this Award

Smuggler Story Wins Top Prize Stephen Romei , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 5 September 2012; (p. 7)
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