Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 21, 2019

2019 Hazel Rowley Fellowship shortlist

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
  • 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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