AustLit logo
National Book Council Award for Australian Literature
Subcategory of Awards Australian Awards
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


The National Book Council Award for Australian Literature was financed by the Literature Board of the Australia Council and later by The Book Printer. The prizes were shared between the writer and publisher. The criteria included  that each entry must have high literary merit and make an important contribution to Australian literature.


  • A literary award for books published in Australia instituted by the National Book Council and first awarded in 1974. The award was chiefly funded by the Australia Council. The award was presented annually until, and including, 1987. There was no award in 1986. In 1988 the awards became known as the NBC Banjo Awards. Some works not normally indexed by AustLit are included on the database in order to fully list Award recipients.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 1987

winner y separately published work icon The Nightmarkets : A Novel Alan Wearne , Ringwood : Penguin , 1986 Z431157 1986 sequence novel

Year: 1985

winner y separately published work icon Illywhacker Peter Carey , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1985 Z359598 1985 single work novel (taught in 2 units) In Australian slang, an illywhacker is a country fair con man, an unprincipled seller of fake diamonds and dubious tonics. And Herbert Badgery, may be the king of them all. Vagabond and charlatan, aviator and car salesman, seducer and patriarch, Badgery is a walking embodiment of the Australian national character. (Source: Trove)

Year: 1984

winner y separately published work icon The Boy Adeodatus : The Portrait of a Lucky Young Bastard Bernard Smith , Ringwood : Allen Lane , 1984 Z130461 1984 single work autobiography

Year: 1983

winner y separately published work icon The Observatory : Selected Poems of Dimitris Tsaloumas Dimitris Tsaloumas , ( trans. Philip Grundy et. al.agent )expression St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1983 Z497455 1983 selected work poetry Author's first selection of his poetry in English (parallel text in Greek) and winner of the 1983 NBC Award.

Year: 1982

winner y separately published work icon John Monash Geoffrey Serle , Melbourne : Melbourne University Press , 1982 Z1065873 1982 single work biography
winner y separately published work icon A History of Australia Manning Clark , Carlton : Melbourne University Press , 1962-1987 Z1039986 1962-1987 single work non-fiction

'In 1962, the first volume of Manning Clark's "A History of Australia" appeared. For the next two-and-a-half decades Clark unfolded his tragic celebration of white Australian history. Today, the six-volume history is one of the masterpieces of Australian literature. It is also one of the most passionately debated visions of Australian history. Clark's Australians are men and women of lively goodwill and deep sinfulness, of generous idealism and unthinking brutality. He dramatizes the motivating forces of Australian life - cowardice and vision, cruelty and defiance, greatness of spirit and the spiritual vacuity of the suburbs - all of them locked in the unceasing struggle which builds a nation. Michael Cathcart has re-orchestrated Clark's epic narrative in this single volume. Every page of this abridgement rings with Manning Clark's voice. Here, at last, the general reader can encounter the deep resonances, pessimism and passion of Manning Clark - Australian historian and prophet. Michael Cathcart is co-author of "Mission to the South Seas: the Voyage of the Duff" and author of "Defending the National Tuckshop", a study of conservative responses to the Great Depression.' (Publication summary)

Awarded for vol. 5.

Works About this Award

Literary Prizes 1987 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 7 November 1987; (p. 85)
Starters and Writers [Australian Book Review, February-March 1987] Mark Rubbo , 1987 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , February-March no. 88 1987; (p. 2)
Tom Keneally Points Way to Private-Funds Need 1986 single work interview
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 12 March 1986;
Dimitris Tsaloumas Barbara Hanrahan (interviewer), 1983 single work biography
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , November no. 56 1983; (p. 37-38)
Wanted : A Job for the National Book Council Michele Field , 1982 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 16 October 1982; (p. 33)