2016 National Biography Award shortlist announced

Monday, 4 July 2016

Six unique Australian stories were shortlisted for the nation’s most prestigious biography prize, the State Library of NSW announced TODAY [Monday 4 July].

Two artists, a diplomat, a beloved author, an Archbishop, a war correspondent, and a leading performer are among the distinguished characters who feature in the diverse range of titles nominated for the $25,000 National Biography Award this year.

The shortlisted titles are:

  • Battarbee and Namatjira, Martin Edmond (Giramondo)
  • Comrade Ambassador: Whitlam’s Beijing Envoy, Stephen FitzGerald (Melbourne University Publishing)
  • Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather, Karen Lamb (University of Queensland Press)
  • Mannix, Brenda Niall (Text Publishing)
  • Bearing Witness: The Remarkable Life of Charles Bean, Australia's greatest war correspondent, Peter Rees (Allen & Unwin)
  • Reckoning: A Memoir, Magda Szubanski (Text Publishing)

“If it can be said of biography that it’s mostly about dead white males well then, consider our shortlist – they’re not all dead, they’re not all white and they’re not all male,” said Chair of the judging panel, Dr Peter Cochrane.

With the 2016 award attracting a record number of entries, Dr Cochrane commented that the judges were “impressed and dazzled by the quality and range of entries, confirming that biography is alive and well in Australia and the genre is thriving.”

According to NSW State Librarian and Chief Executive, Alex Byrne: “The National Biography Award has been a champion of biographers and memoir writers and the phenomenal research they undertake since its inauguration in 1996. I congratulate all the shortlisted authors on being chosen from such a large and strong field.”

A total of $31,000 will be awarded with the winner of the Award receiving $25,000 and each shortlisted author receiving $1,000 in recognition of their achievement.

The winner will be announced on Monday 8 August at 11am at a special free event at the State Library of NSW.

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Stack of shortlisted books for the 2016 National Biography Award