Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 21, 2019

2019 Hazel Rowley Fellowship shortlist and winner

Update 13/3/19 The winner has been announced: the $15,000 2019 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship goes to Eleanor Hogan for her proposed biography of Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates.

The following information comes from the press release, with thanks to Della Rowley:

The work is titled ‘Into the Loneliness’, and…

… is a speculative biographical work about the partnership between journalist Ernestine Hill and self-taught ethnologist Daisy Bates, and their collaboration on the controversial bestseller, The Passing of the Aborigines, published in 1944.

“Eleanor’s idea of a joint biography of two feisty women within a fascinating and important period of our history won over the judges. Her proposal recalls Hazel’s own interest in exploring the complex relationships between two people whose lives are intertwined”, said Della Rowley, sister of the late biographer in whose name the Fellowship has been established.

Eleanor’s book traces the story of these women’s intense and contrary friendship to reflect on their participation in shaping popular understandings of race, gender and country at that time.

“We are delighted to award the 2019 Fellowship to Eleanor Hogan for her biographical study of two significant and intriguing women who were in many ways ahead of their time and yet in their shared artistic endeavour also reflective of it. We were impressed by the sophisticated structure and interconnected narratives of this biography through which Eleanor Hogan will reconceptualise the shifting, complex, relationships between Daisy Bates, Ernestine Hill and Indigenous Australians,” said Fellowship Judge Jenny Hocking.

“Eleanor Hogan’s study of Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates promises to be a fascinating exploration of women’s relationships in 20th century Australia, even as it offers fresh insight into the problematic formation of an ethnological consensus about Indigenous Australia,” commented Fellowship Judge, Jeff Sparrow.


The 2019 Hazel Rowley Fellowship shortlist has been announced.  The Fellowship, established in memory of Hazel Rowley (1951–2011) awards $15,000 to an Australian biographer.

Hazel Rowley wrote four critically-acclaimed biographies before her sudden death in 2011:

  • Christina Stead: A Biography (1993), see my review;
  • Richard Wright: The Life and Times (2001);
  • Tête-à-Tête: The Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre (2005) and
  • Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage (2010) see my review.

The 2019 nominees are

  • Maggie Tonkin (SA) for a biography of Australian choreographer Meryl Tankard
  • Brigitta Olubas (NSW) for a biography of writer Shirley Hazzard
  • Eleanor Hogan (NT) for her project on the friendship between Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates Update 5/3/19 Eleanor Hogan has won the fellowship for 2019.
  • Stephenie Cahalan (TAS) writing about artist Jean Belette, ‘The Modern Woman of Australian Modernism’
  • Gabrielle Carey (NSW) for a biography of Elizabeth von Arnim
  • James Boyce (TAS) for a new biography of Governor Lachlan Macquarie
  • James Mairata (NSW) for a biography about Australian film and television producer Hal McElroy
  • Diana James (NSW) for her proposal ‘Open Hearted Country: Nganyinytja’s Story’

(Except for James Boyce who wrote the brilliant 1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia) I don’t know anything about the qualities of these writers as biographers, but I’m barracking for the bio of Shirley Hazzard (because I will buy it the day it’s published).

The winner will be announced during Adelaide Writers’ Week, on Monday 4 March 2019.  The judges are biographers Jenny Hocking and Jeff Sparrow along with Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan.

Previous winners include:

  • 2018 Jacqueline Kent (NSW) for a biography of suffragist Vida Goldstein.
  • 2017 Ann-Marie Priest (QLD) for her biography of Australian poet Gwen Harwood.
  • 2016 Matthew Lamb (TAS) for Frank Moorhouse: A Discontinuous Life to be published by Vintage later this year.
  • 2015 Caroline Baum (NSW), for a biography of Lucie Dreyfus (1870-1945).
  • 2014 Maxine Beneba Clarke (VIC) for her memoir, The Hate Race.
  • 2013 Stephany Steggall (QLD) for her biography of Thomas Keneally, Interestingly Enough… (see my review)
  • 2012, Mary Hoban (VIC),for her biography An Unconventional Wife: The Life of Julia Sorell Arnold, to be published in April this year by Scribe.


  1. I know of Brigitta Olubas but from articles on literature so hopefully she’ll do Hazzard proud.

    I’ve reviewed Gabrielle Carey’s Moving among strangers which is a sort of biography of Randolph Stow, and won a PM’s Literary Award. She’s done a book on Ivan Southall too. (One of my 2016 lit bloggers went to a talk Carey gave on her research for this book). I’m intrigued that she’s doing von Arnim, because I have in my TBR a not so old biography of her which I’m keen to read, but I’d certainly read Carey’s.


    • Ah yes, thank you for reminding about that ‘bio’ of Stow, I meant to borrow it from the library:)
      I’d be very surprised if publishers aren’t champing at the bit for the Hazzard bio: with her international profile it should have an international readership, as long as some other biographer doesn’t get in first…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve run into Mary Hoban before (on the page!) Perhaps in relation to Caroline Chisholm. But, what I really want to see is the Hill/Bates one which cuts quite close to my mythical PhD.


    • Huh? I thought I replied to this an hour ago… where’s it gone?
      Anyway, my thought was that maybe we need a philanthropist to fund the lot of them:)


  3. What an interesting shortlist! The fellowship always brings out such fine projects; I hope to enter it one day.


    • I will be barracking for you when you do:)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Awww, thanks Lisa!


        • LOL You realise it might be the kiss of death… I don’t have a good track record when it comes to picking winners!

          Liked by 1 person

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