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Non-Fiction Prize
Subcategory of The Age Book of the Year Award
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Winners

2011 winner y separately published work icon A Three-Cornered Life : The Historian W. K. Hancock Jim Davidson , Sydney : University of New South Wales Press , 2010 Z1704878 2010 single work biography 'While W.K. Hancock may no longer be described as 'Australia's most distinguished historian', he has some enduring claims to our attention. No other Australian historian - and few elsewhere - can match his 'span', to use one of his watchwords. Hancock was a major historian in four or five fields, who himself made history by going on a mission to Uganda for the British government in 1954 to mediate the future of Buganda after its ruler had been exiled. He was also, from a room in the Cabinet Office in Whitehall, the editor of a vast historical project: the writing of a series of accounts of British mobilisation on the home front during the Second World War. In addition, Hancock was a founder of the Australian National University, while his Australia (1930) remains one of the classic accounts of this country' (Publishers website).
2010 winner y separately published work icon Ten Hail Marys : A Memoir Kate Howarth , 2008 St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2010 Z1680974 2008 single work autobiography

'In January 1966, Kate Howarth gave birth to a healthy baby boy at St Margaret's Home for unwed mothers in Sydney. In the months before the birth, and the days after, she resisted intense pressure to give up her son for adoption, becoming one of the few women to ever leave the institution with her baby. She was only sixteen years old.

'What inspired such courage?

'In Ten Hail Marys, Kate Howarth vividly recounts the first seventeen years of her life in Sydney's slums and suburbs and in rural New South Wales. Abandoned by her mother as a baby and then by "Mamma", her volatile grandmother, as a young girl, Kate was shunted between Aboriginal relatives and expected to grow up fast. A natural storyteller, she describes a childhood beset by hardship, abuse, profound grief and poverty, but buoyed with the hope that one day she would make a better life for herself.

'Frank, funny and incredibly moving, Ten Hail Marys is the compelling true story of a childhood lost, and a young woman's hard-won self-possession.' (From the publisher's website.)

2008 winner y separately published work icon American Journeys Don Watson , North Sydney : Random House , 2008 Z1477248 2008 single work prose travel

'Only in America - the most powerful democracy on earth, home to the best and worst of everything - are the most extreme contradictions possible. In a series of journeys acclaimed author Don Watson set out to explore the nation that has influenced him more than any other.

'Travelling by rail gave Watson a unique and seductive means of peering into the United States, a way to experience life with its citizens: long days with the American landscape and American towns and American history unfolding on the outside, while inside a tiny particle of the American people talked among themselves.

'Watson's experiences are profoundly affecting: he witnesses the terrible aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast; explores the savage history of the Deep South, the heartland of the Civil War; and journeys to the remarkable wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. Yet it is through the people he meets that Watson discovers the incomparable genius of America, its optimism, sophistication and riches - and also its darker side, its disavowal of failure and uncertainty.

'... American Journeys investigates the meaning of the United States: its confidence, its religion, its heroes, its violence, and its material obsessions. The things that make America great are also its greatest flaws.' (Publisher's blurb)

2006 winner y separately published work icon Velocity Mandy Sayer , Milsons Point : Vintage Australia , 2005 Z1196937 2005 single work autobiography

'VELOCITY tells the moving, painful but often hilarious story of Mandy Sayer's childhood and adolescence, a life lived on the edges - of society, of poverty, of certainty, of love.

'Filled with beautifully realised descriptions of life seen through a child's eyes - a child who gradually comes to realise her adored parents are all too tragically flawed and broken. Mandy is immersed in a world of smoky jazz bars, steamy beer gardens and lino-floored dosshouses, while vainly trying to make sense of the shambolic lifestyle of her alcoholic parents.

'Conceived after her jazz musician father swallowed a block of hash at a party, a young Mandy soon comes to realise that nothing in her world stays the same for long. Her father is prone to perplexing vanishing acts: absent for months at a time, he arrives on the doorstep to greet his delighted daughter with great affection, but no explanations. Meanwhile, her mother pursues fruitless relationships with other men while her father reacts with seeming indifference. Mandy and her mother frequently move house so her mother can take on housekeeping jobs, leaving Mandy struggling to make lasting friendships and longing for stability. She feels particularly vulnerable when her mother becomes involved with Hakkin, a deeply aggressive man whose violent and erratic outbursts are not reserved only for Mandy's mother.

'But there are many moments in life which bring Mandy joy and offer refuge: times when she feels assured of the love and approval of her parents: when she immerses herself in poetry, acting and music, and surrounds herself with those who share her passions.

'Velocity packs the emotional impact of 'Angela's Ashes' with the surreal humour and razor-sharp observations of 'Running with scissors'. Sayer brings into focus those moments when the child's world and the adult world intersect, when illusions are shattered and understanding begins. Unflinchingly honest, startlingly brave and written with a clear-eyed, lyrical grace, 'Velocity' is an ultimately uplifting story of struggle and faith against frightening odds. ' (Publication summary)

2005 winner y separately published work icon Plenty : Digressions on Food Gay Bilson , Camberwell : Lantern , 2004 Z1160512 2004 single work autobiography
2004 winner y separately published work icon A Death in Brazil : A Book of Omissions Peter Robb , Potts Point : Duffy and Snellgrove , 2003 Z1069626 2003 single work autobiography travel
2003 winner y separately published work icon Charles Conder : The Last Bohemian Ann Galbally , Carlton : Miegunyah Press , 2002 Z997321 2002 single work biography

'A gifted artist whose personal style and unconventional life made him one of the most intriguing artists of the late 19th century is portrayed in this biography of Charles Conders. A friend of Tom Roberts and student of Frederick McCubbin, Conder was one of the few painters of the Heidelberg School of Australian Impressionists to achieve a reputation in Europe. After contributing to the famous 9 x 5 Exhibition in Melbourne in 1889, Conders traveled to Paris, where he mingled with such fin de siècle leaders as Oscar Wilde, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Aubrey Beardsley. There he readily embraced bohemia and found himself forever in debt, while he lived as though there were no tomorrow. Saved from poverty by marriage to a wealthy widow, the painter nevertheless descended into syphilitic madness and died before the age of 40.'(Production summary)

2002 winner y separately published work icon Recollections of a Bleeding Heart : A Portrait of Paul Keating PM Don Watson , Milsons Point : Random House Australia , 2002 Z994945 2002 single work biography 'In December 1991 Paul Keating wrested the role of Prime Minister from Bob Hawke and the bruises from that struggle were part of the baggage he brought to the job: the other parts included the worst recession in 60 years and an electorate determined to make him pay for it. Keating defied the odds and won the 1993 election, and in his four years as Prime Minister set Australia on a new course - towards engagement with Asia, a republic, reconciliation, a social democracy built on a modern export-based economy and sophisticated public systems of education and training, health and social security. Widely regarded as a quintessential economic rationalist, Keating's record clearly shows that his vision was infinitely broader and more complex.

'Don Watson was employed as Keating's speechwriter. Based on the diaries Watson kept through the four turbulent and exhausting years of Keating's Prime Ministership, on its release Recollections of a Bleeding Heart was widely deemed a masterpiece. It is at once a groundbreaking "inside" account of politics and a profound and extraordinarily frank study of the most intriguing and visionary politician in Australia's modern history. Now, when vision and character have all but vanished from politics, Don Watson's Recollections makes absorbing - and essential - reading.' (From the publisher's website, 10th anniversary edition.)
2001 winner y separately published work icon The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift Nadia Wheatley , Pymble : HarperCollins , 2001 Z821990 2001 single work biography A comprehensive biography of Charmian Clift's life and work. The biographer, Nadia Wheatley, spent over two decades in research for this Life, while continuing to write her own important body of work. Nadia Wheatley's examination of Clift's literary works in print and in manuscript is enlightening.
1999 winner y separately published work icon Sacred Places : War Memorials in the Australian Landscape Ken Inglis , Carlton : Miegunyah Press , 1998 Z1065027 1998 single work non-fiction

'Memorials to Australian participation in wars abound in our landscape. From Melbourne's huge Shrine of Remembrance to the modest marble soldier, obelisk or memorial hall in suburb and country town, they mourn and honour Australians who have served and died for their country. Surprisingly, they have largely escaped scrutiny. Ken Inglis argues that the imagery, rituals and rhetoric generated around memorials constitute a civil religion, a cult of ANZAC. Sacred Places traces three elements which converged to create the cult: the special place of war in the European mind when nationalism was at its zenith; the colonial condition; and the death of so many young men in distant battle, which impelled the bereaved to make substitutes for the graves of which history had deprived them. The 'war memorial movement' attracted conflict as well as commitment. Inglis looks at uneasy acceptance, even rejection, of the cult by socialists, pacifists, feminists and some Christians, and at its virtual exclusion of Aborigines. He suggests that between 1918 and 1939 the making, dedication and use of memorials enhanced the power of the right in Australian public life. Finally, he examines a paradox. Why, as Australia's wars recede in public and private memory, and as a once British Australia becomes multicultural, have the memorials and what they stand for become more cherished than ever? Sacred Places spans war, religion, politics, language and the visual arts. Ken Inglis has distilled new cultural understandings from a familiar landscape.' (Publication summary)

1997 winner y separately published work icon Snake Cradle Roberta Sykes , St Leonards : Allen and Unwin , 1997 Z328748 1997 single work autobiography (taught in 1 units)

'Snake Cradle is the first volume of Roberta Sykes's three volume autobiography, Snake Dreaming. Snake Cradle chronicles the early years of one of Australia's best known activists for Aboriginal rights, from the time of her birth in Townsville in the 1940s through to the birth of her son when she was 17, and the trial of the men who raped her.

Roberta's voice is strong and true as she describes far north Queensland of the time, her battles with a series of childhood illnesses, and her growing awareness that hers was not an ordinary Australian childhood. Born to a white mother and a father whose identity she did not know, her passion and commitment to the struggles of the Aboriginal people was shaped by the racism her dark skin invoked. A powerful and moving autobiography about a history that must never be forgotten.' (Allen and Unwin)

1993 winner y separately published work icon Journeyings : The Biography of a Middle-Class Generation 1920-1990 Janet McCalman , Carlton : Melbourne University Press , 1993 Z1065092 1993 single work non-fiction
1992 winner y separately published work icon A Fence around the Cuckoo Ruth Park , Ringwood : Viking , 1992 Z501992 1992 single work autobiography

'This first volume of Ruth Park’s autobiography is an account of her isolated childhood in the rainforests of New Zealand, her convent education which encouraged her love of words and writing, and the bitter years of the Depression.She then entered the rough-and-tumble world of journalism and began a reluctant correspondence with a young Australian writer.

'In 1942, Park moved to Sydney and married that writer, D’Arcy Niland. There she would write The Harp in the South, the first of her classic Australian novels. A Fence Around the Cuckoo is the story of one of Australia’s best storytellers and how she learnt her craft.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Text ed.)

1991 winner y separately published work icon Patrick White : A Life David Marr , London : Jonathan Cape , 1991 Z307107 1991 single work biography 'Patrick White, winner of the Nobel Prize and author of more than a dozen novels and plays - including Voss, The Vivisector and The Twyborn Affair - lived an extraordinary life. David Marr's brilliant biography draws not only on a wide range of original research but also on the single most difficult and important source of all: the man himself. Gracefully written and exhaustively researched, Patrick White is a biography of classic excellence - sympathetic, objective, penetrating and as blunt, when necessary, as White himself.' (Source: LibrariesAustralia)
1990 winner y separately published work icon Blessed City : The Letters of Gwen Harwood to Thomas Riddell, January to September 1943 Gwen Harwood , Alison Hoddinott (editor), North Ryde : Angus and Robertson , 1990 Z361122 1990 selected work correspondence
1989 winner y separately published work icon Mariners are Warned! : John Lort Stokes and H.M.S. Beagle in Australia 1837-1843 Marsden C. Hordern , Carlton : Melbourne University Press Miegunyah Press , 1989 Z1065913 1989 single work biography
1988 winner y separately published work icon Big-Noting : The Heroic Theme in Australian War Writing Robin Gerster , Carlton : Melbourne University Press , 1987 Z372387 1987 single work criticism
1987 winner y separately published work icon The Fatal Shore : A History of the Transportation of Convicts to Australia, 1787-1868 Robert Hughes , London : Collins Harvill , 1987 Z1065904 1987 single work non-fiction 'Traces the fate of the 160,000 men, women and children transported between the dispatch of the First Fleet in May 1787 to Botany Bay, and the arrival of the latest convict ship in 1868 in Western Australia.' (Source: Trove)
1986 winner y separately published work icon George Johnston : A Biography Garry Kinnane , Melbourne : Nelson , 1986 Z31610 1986 single work biography

A comprehensive biography of George Johnston's life and work with particular reference to his literary work especially the autobiographical novels of the Meredith Trilogy.

1985 joint winner y separately published work icon Vietnam : A Reporter's War Hugh Lunn , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1985 Z1065900 1985 single work autobiography war literature
1985 joint winner y separately published work icon Mapping the Paddocks Chester Eagle , Fitzroy : McPhee Gribble , 1985 Z545513 1985 single work autobiography
1984 winner y separately published work icon H. B. Higgins : The Rebel as Judge John Rickard , Sydney : George Allen and Unwin , 1984 Z1065891 1984 single work biography
1983 y separately published work icon A History of Tasmania : Volume I. : Van Diemen's Land from the Earliest Times to 1855 L. L. Robson , Melbourne : Oxford University Press , 1983 Z1065894 1983 single work non-fiction
1982 winner y separately published work icon John Monash Geoffrey Serle , Melbourne : Melbourne University Press , 1982 Z1065873 1982 single work biography
1981 winner y separately published work icon A Million Wild Acres : 200 Years of Man and an Australian Forest Eric Rolls , Melbourne : Nelson , 1981 Z816342 1981 single work non-fiction 'Here is a contentious story of men and their passion for land; of occupation and settlement; of destruction and growth. By following the tracks of these pioneers who crossed the Blue Mountains into northern New South Wales, Eric Rolls - poet, farmer and self-taught naturalist - has written the history of European settlement in Australia. He evokes the ruthlessness and determination of the first settlers who worked the land -- a land they knew little about.
Rolls has re-written the history of settlement and destroyed the argument that Australia's present dense eucalypt forests are the remnants of 200 years of energetic clearing. Neither education nor social advantage decided the success of the first settlers, or those squatters, selectors, stockmen and timber getters who helped grow the Pilliga forest. Few men were more violent than John Macarthur, few rogues more vigorous than William Cox, few statesmen more self-seeking than William Wentworth.
Rolls' environment teems with wildlife, with plants and trees, with feral pigs; with the marvellous interaction of insects and plants, rare animals and birds. The lovely tangle which is the modern forest comes to life as Rolls reflects on soils, living conditions, breeding and ecology' (GHR Press website).
1978 winner y separately published work icon The Anzacs Patsy Adam-Smith , West Melbourne : Nelson , 1978 Z1065868 1978 single work non-fiction

'Gallipoli was the final resting place for thousands of young Australians. Death struck so fast there was not time for escape or burial. And when Gallipoli was over there was the misery of the European Campaign. Patsy Adam-Smith read over 8000 diaries and letters to write her acclaimed best-seller about the First World War. Soldiers sought her out to tell her why they went, what they saw, and how they felt about that great holocaust. Their simple accounts are more vivid than any novel; the years have not dimmed their memories of lost comrades and the horrors of war. These are the extraordinary experiences of ordinary men - and they strike to the heart. The Anzacs remains unrivalled as the classic account of Australia's involvement in the First World War.' (Publisher's blurb)

1976 winner y separately published work icon Capitalism, Socialism and the Environment Hugh Stretton , Cambridge : Cambridge University Press , 1976 Z1065865 1976 single work non-fiction
1974 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.3, published in 1973.
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