Posted by: Lisa Hill | July 14, 2022

2022 National Biography Award winner and shortlist

Update 10/8/22 The winner has been announced: congratulations to Bernadette Brennan for her biography of Gillian Mears, Leaping into Waterfalls. (I always like it when a LitBio wins!!)

The 2022 National Biography Award shortlist has been announced.

The NBA is the nation’s richest prize for Australian biographical writing and memoir:

•    $25,000 for the winner
•    $2,000 for each of the six shortlisted authors
•    $5,000 Michael Crouch Award for a first published biography, autobiography or memoir by an Australian writer.

These are the nominees. (Links take you to the judges comments)

I was interested to see that although shortlists often include memoirs (and clearly they are eligible), eleven of the last twelve winners of the NBA were biographies.

Has anyone read any of these?

To find out more visit the NSW State Library website.


  1. No, but I have both the Brennan and Garner on my TBR. I’m guessing Nathan’s was not eligible for this year?


  2. No, I checked that on the website, not eligible this year.
    What on earth has happened to my layout?
    *checks HTML*


    • That’ll teach me, I’d just copied the links from the NBA website so that people could go to the judges comments, and it brought a whole lot of weird HTML with it.
      Note to self: do not do that again!


  3. I have the Gillian Mears and Helen Garner on the shelf but unread. I have become distracted by starting the biographical/diary of British actress Sheila Hancock who I absolutely loved in the fairly recent film Edie. Her book is called Old Rage. So far I’m enjoying it.


    • She was a comedian in the 70s, I think:)


      • It has its flaws, but I really enjoyed Hancock’s memoir about John Thaw which she published a few years after he died.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The bio about Gillian Mears is extraordinary. Into the Loneliness didn’t work for me and I ended up giving it to a friend to try instead.


    • I think someone among us has read and reviewed it, but I’ve been too post-Covid tired to hunt around.


      • Look no further. It was me 😅


        • Ah!


          • Hi folks, I loved the Mears biography, too. It was my principle holiday read last Christmas. The ending (perhaps I should say “her ending”?) was very affecting. A beguiling person and artist.


            • I know, I must read it… but I have so many other LitBios to read as well, and I really want to do the Eleanor Dark one, so that I can host an Eleanor Dark week in due course…


              • You’ve really prompted me to do likewise, Lisa. I actually went to the Alice Springs launch of this about a year ago, but I haven’t managed to actually sit down and read it yet. It certainly sounded, and sounds, fascinating.


                • Just not enough hours in the day…


  5. Hi Lisa,
    Slightly off topic, but I’ve just finished the new Gwen Harwood biography by Ann-Marie Priest, “My Tongue Is My Own.” My guess is that it won’t be eligible for this award until next year. A nomination for it would be in order, I think.


    • Do you say that because it’s an exceptional bio, Glen, or because of GH’s status as a poet? Or both?


      • Both. It’s possibly a little light on some of the antecedents to her work, but the whole is fascinating with its insights into her family and other relationships, as well as lit-scene “inside knowledge” from the late 50’s onwards On a personal note, I was marvelling at and trying to grapple with her work as a TEE student (such as it was known then) all through the last year of her life. And I never knew until at least two years into my undergraduate degree which had nothing to do with literature (but that’s another story *wink*).


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