Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 3, 2010

National Biography Award Shortlist

Here’s the shortlist for this year’s $20,000 National Biography Award.  I’ve read two of them, and have Doing Life and Andrew Fisher on my TBR.  (I have read Day’s biographies of Australia’s wartime PMs,  Curtin, A Life and Chifley, A Life and enjoyed them both, he writes so well!)

  • Andrew Fisher: Prime Minister of Australia by David Day, published by HarperCollins.
  • Doing Life: A Biography of Elizabeth Jolley by Brian Dibble, published by UWA Press (16/2/16 see my review)
  • House of Exile: The Life and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann by Evelyn Juers, published by Giramondo, see my review.
  • Manning Clark: A Life by Brian Matthews, published by Allen & Unwin.
  • Stella Miles Franklin: A Biography by Jill Roe, published by Harper Collins, see my review.
  • The Weight of Silence: A Memoir by Catherine Therese, published by Hachette Australia.

Whether it wins or not (and IMO it’s a model biography: immensely readable, thoroughly researched without being heavy-handed about it, and analytical not merely descriptive) Jill Roe’s biography of Miles Franklin is a must-read for anyone interested in Australian literature.

The judges were David McCooey, Ian Templeman and Justine Molony.   The winner will be announced on Monday 17 May as part of the Sydney Writers Festival.

The 2009 winner was I Am Melba by Ann Blainey, published by Black Inc.  See my review.


  1. I’ve heard of a couple of these only because I listen to the Book Show podcast from ABC,all the best Stu


  2. So, Stu, would we call it a parochial list? I don’t know what the rules are for the National Biography Award, but apart from House of Exile, all the subjects are Australian – and are probably not going to feature on any international bookshelves no matter how good they are.
    Perhaps that’s inevitable? After all, when doing the research involves expensive travel and accommodation costs, it’s hard for an Aussie biographer to write about someone whose papers and records aren’t available here in Australia, eh?


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