A Wrap-up of Australian Non-fiction Award Winners in 2011

It’s that time of year: where news outlets produce copious montages and interviews reflecting on the year that has been, while individually we wonder what happened to the new year’s resolution we made more than eleven months ago.

In the spirit of the season, and to help raise the profile of the craft of non-fiction writing generally, let’s review the non-fiction winners of 12 of Australia’s literary and history prizes and awards for 2011.

The list is generally dominated by biographies and autobiographies of historians, architects, sports people, politicians and migrants, as well as stories of communities affected by cultural challenges and tragic events.

So, the non-fiction book award winners for 2011 are (in chronological order of announcements, starting with the most recent) *drum roll*:

Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History (winners announced 1 Dec 11):

–      A Three-Cornered Life: The Historian W K Hancock by Jim Davidson  and Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny and Murder in the Great War by Peter Stanley

Walkley Nonfiction Book Award (winners announced 27 Nov 11longlist):

–      King Brown Country: The betrayal of Papunya by Russell Skelton

Colin Roderick Award (winners announced 26 Oct 11, shortlist): though not strictly a non-fiction award, a non-fiction book won it again this year:

–      Worst of Days: Inside the Black Saturday Firestorm by Karen Kissane

Western Australia Premier’s Book Awards (winners announced 30 Sep 11):

–      Category: Non-fiction: A Three-Cornered Life: The Historian W. K. Hancock by Jim Davidson

–      Category: State Library of WA: WA History Award: Vite Italiane: Italian Lives in Western Australia by Dr Susanna Iuliano

Victorian Premier Literary Awards (winners announced 6 Sep 11, shortlist):

–      Category: Nettie Palmer Prize for Nonfiction: An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark by Mark McKenna

Queensland Premier Literary Awards (winners announced 6 Sep 11):

–      Category: Non-Fiction Book Award: An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark by Mark McKenna

–      Category: History Book Award – ­­Faculty of Arts, University of Queensland: Northern Voyagers: Australia’s monsoon coast in maritime history by Alan Powell

New South Wales Premier’s History Awards (winners announced 5 Sep 11):

–      Category: General History Prize: Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem Between the Wars by Shane White, Stephen Garton, Stephen Robertson and Graham White

The Age Book of the Year (winners announced 25 Aug 11 [Matilda blog]):

–      Category: Non-fiction: A Three-Cornered Life: The Historian W. K. Hancock by Jim Davidson

The Australian Centre Literary Awards (Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne — winners announced 2 Sep 11):

–      Category: Peter Blazey Fellowship: Helen Ennis

–      Category: Asher Literary Award: this one’s for a female writer whose work carries an anti-war theme and I’ve included it because of my personal bias towards military history: The Old School by PM Newton (crime novel) and Ruin by Roberta Lowing (poems about Iraq war)

–      Category: Ernest Scott Prize for History (winners announced Aug 11): A Merciless Place: The Lost Story of Britain’s Convict Disaster in Africa and how it led to the Settlement of Australia by Emma Christopher and A Three-Cornered Life: The Historian W K Hancock by Jim Davidson

Australian Book Industry Awards (winners announced 25 Jul 11):

–      Category: General Non-Fiction Book of the Year: True Spirit by Jessica Watson

–      Category: Biography of the Year: The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do (which also won Book of the Year) and How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (winners announced 8 Jul 11):

–      Category: Non-fiction: The Hard Light of Day by Rod Moss

NSW Premier’s Literary Awards (winners announced 20 May 11 [ANZ Litlovers Blog]):

–      Category: The Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction (which also won Book of the Year): Malcolm Fraser: The Political Memoirs by Margaret Simons

–      Category: National Biography Award: Grand Obsessions: The Life and Work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin by Alasdair McGregor


So, as it’s the Christmas season, do you take into consider whether a book has won an award when buying books?





About Catherine C. Turner

Catherine C. Turner grew up as an 'Army brat', then became a part-time Army officer, and was full-time Army officer’s spouse for more than a decade. Along the way, she added Afghanistan to the Turner family war service medal collection, which already includes her father's from Vietnam and his father's from Korea and the Pacific in WWII. She has lived and worked in three states and two territories in Australia and has travelled to Europe, the UK, and USA (the last on her American passport). She’s an arts worker with expertise in corporate comunication and book publishing, and holds several qualifications, including an honours degree from University of Canberra, a graduate certificate from Deakin University, and a graduate diploma from RMIT. When she is not writing her first military history book about the Australia Light Horse charge at Beersheba, she fantasises about riding her motorcycle on a top television motor show and becoming the No. 1 Female Ticket Holder for the Geelong Cats AFL team.

Posted on 13 December 2011, in Literary Awards and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme. Bless you

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