Posted by: Lisa Hill | July 9, 2020

2020 National Biography Award shortlist

Update 28/8/20

The winner has been announced. Congratulations to Patrick Mullins for Tiberius with a Telephone.

Jessica White has won the Michael Crouch award for a debut work of biography in the National Biography Awards, for Hearing Maud.


Meanwhile, things go on…

The shortlist for the National Biography Award has been announced.

The shortlisted titles are:

  • The Girls, a memoir of family, grief and sexuality, by Chloe Higgins,
  • Beyond Words, a year with Kenneth Cook, by Jacqueline Kent, see my review
  • Idling in Green Places, a Life of Alec Chisholm, by Russell McGregor
  • Tiberius with a Telephone, the Life and Stories of William McMahon, by Patrick Mullins
  • Things Nobody Knows But Me, by Amra Pajalic
  • Hearing Maud by Jessica White, see my review

Congratulations to all the authors, editors and publishers!

The following comes from the State Library of NSW website:

The National Biography Award, supported by the Nelson Meers Foundation, celebrates excellence in biography, autobiography and memoir writing.

With a prize pool of $42,000 it is the nation’s richest prize for Australian biographical writing and memoir.

The Award was established in 1996 by Dr Geoffrey Cains and generously supported by the late Michael Crouch AC to encourage the highest standards of writing in biographical writing and to promote public interest in the genre.

On 6 August 2018 the State Library announced that the Nelson Meers Foundation would be supporting the Award moving forward. The Nelson Meers Foundation has generously increased the value of the prize for each of the shortlisted authors to $2,000. The Nelson Meers Foundation’s key objective is to foster innovative artistic and cultural expression, and to encourage greater engagement with the diversity, complexity and richness of
our cultural sector. They support organisations and projects that utilise the arts to create positive social change, promote individual wellbeing, community cohesion and cultural tolerance.

In recognition of the long standing support from the late Michael Crouch AC the Nelson Meers Foundation will also fund an additional prize in his name for a first published biography/memoir by an Australian writer.

The Award’s growth and success recognises and reflects the continuing interest in stories about people with extraordinary lives.

In 2020 there will be a total of $42,000 in prize money:
•    $25,000 for the winner
•    $2,000 for each of six shortlisted authors
•    $5,000 Michael Crouch Award for a first published biography by an Australian writer


  1. Of these, I have only (so far) read ‘Tiberius with a Telephone.’ I have a copy of ‘Hearing Maud’ to read.


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