Literary Award season continues with the announcement of the winner of the National Biography Award last week and today with the announcement of the NSW Premier’s History Awards.

Winner: National Biography Award ($25,000)

C J DennisDescribed as a “forensic work of recovery”, the  extraordinary biography of popular Australian poet CJ Dennis,  An Unsentimental Bloke, The Life and Works of C.J Dennis by Philip Butterss has won the $25,000 National Biography Award – Australia’s richest prize for life writing from a field of 72 entries.

The judges praised Butterss for his deeply informed, illuminating and delightfully readable work; “the first full biography of the man who wrote The Songs of the Sentimental Bloke, The Moods of Ginger Mick and several other classics.” “An Unsentimental Bloke is a meticulously researched account of the life and times of CJ Dennis, possibly the most popular writer ever to pen stories for an Australian audience and far and away the most popular of all Australian poets,” the judges reported.

 NSW Premier’s History Awards 

State Library

Eight judges considered 180 entries across six prize categories.

The Premier of NSW, the Hon Mike Baird MP commented ‘these awards are a celebration of the diversity and excellence in historical practice in Australia and the importance of historians in marking and understanding our nation’s past.’ ‘Celebrating the vital work of historians and the role of history in our society is fundamental to the core values of th State Library of NSW...’

The award announcement, on Friday 4th September will also launch NSW History Week.

2015 Shortlist:

Australian History Prize ($15,000)

  • The Bush, Don Watson (Penguin Books Australia)
  • The Europeans in Australia, Volume 3: Nation, Alan Atkinson (NewSouth Books)
  • Where Song Began: Australia’s Birds and How They Changed the World, Tim Low (Penguin Books Australia)

Australian First World War History Prize (commemorative medallion)

  • Anzac, the Unauthorised Biography, Carolyn Holbrook (NewSouth Books)
  • Homefront Hostilities: The First World War and Domestic Violence, Elizabeth Nelson (Australian Scholarly Publishing)
  • The Lost Legions of Fromelles, The true story of the most dramatic battle in Australia’s history, Peter Barton (Allen & Unwin)

General History Prize ($15,000)

  • Crisis of the Wasteful Nation: Empire and Conservation in Theodore Roosevelt’s America, Ian Tyrrell (University of Chicago Press)
  • Intolerant Bodies: A Short History of Autoimmunity, Warwick Anderson & Ian R Mackay (Johns Hopkins University Press)
  • Wild man from Borneo: A Cultural History of the Orangutan, Robert Cribb, Helen Gilbert & Helen Tiffin (University of Hawai’i Press) NSW

Community and Regional History Prize ($15,000)

  • Leisure Space: The Transformation of Sydney 1945‐1970, Judith O’Callaghan and Paul Hogben (NewSouth Publishing)
  • The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress: An Environmental History, Cameron Muir (CSIRO Publishing ‐ Earthscan from Routledge)
  • The Luck of the Irish: How a shipload of convicts survived the wreck of the Hive to make a new life in Australia, Babette Smith (Allen & Unwin)

Young People’s History Prize ($15,000)

  • A‐Z of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land, Simon Barnard (Text Publishing)
  • Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony, Stephanie Owen Reeder (NLA Publishing)
  • My Gallipoli, Ruth Starke & Robert Hannaford (Penguin Books Australia)

Multimedia History Prize ($15,000)

  • A History of Forgetting: from Shellshock to PTSD, Lorena Allam & Timothy Nicastri (ABC Radio National)
  • Brilliant Creatures, Dan Goldberg & Margie Bryant (Mint Pictures)
  • The Dalfram Dispute 1938: Pig Iron Bob, Sandra Pires (Why Documentaries)


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