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Returned Soldiers League Prize for Australian War Novel
Subcategory of Awards Australian Awards
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Sponsored by the Victorian branch of the Returned Soldiers League and held as part of the Centenary programme. Entrants had to be persons who served abroad during World War I as members of the Royal Australian Navy, The A.I.F., or the Australian Nursing Service. The theme of this competition was 'depict the life of the Australian soldier during the way and their reaction to the effects of the various conditions and environments through which they passed. The story and descriptive matter had to be historically and geographically correct. First prize-was £150, second £50 and third £10. (Source : The Age, 12 October, 1933 p8)


1935 winner y separately published work icon Crucible : An Australian First World War Novel J. P. McKinney , Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1935 Z192045 1935 single work novel war literature

'Insightful, humorous and confronting, “Crucible” is a delicate portrait of the thoughts and emotions of a young man experiencing a brutal and bewildering war. This prize-winning Australian novel of the First World War recounts the coming of age of a sensitive young Australian soldier on the Western Front. McKinney, whose portrait appears on the book’s cover, fought in France from 1915 to1918 with the First Anzac Cyclist Battalion, and much of the novel is loosely based on his own wartime experiences. It takes the reader to the trenches and their horrors, as well as to life behind the lines in occupied France. The camaraderie, intense friendships and occasional tensions among the Diggers who lived and died together in France is vividly portrayed, and young John Fairbairn finds himself faced with the painful dilemmas of love and betrayal that war so often brings in its train. “Crucible” broke new ground in its use of a narrative technique that slips between traditional third person narration and the immediacy of a sometimes fragmented and intense inner voice. It won the RSL Prize for an Australian War Novel in 1935, the year it was published.' (Publication summary)

Awarded under an earlier working title, 'Over the Top'.