Applications closed

About the prize

The Douglas Stewart Prize ($40,000) is for a prose work other than a work of fiction.

Books including biographies, autobiographies and works of history, philosophy and literary criticism may be nominated provided they display literary qualities. Oral histories are ineligible unless the author claims artistic responsibility for the majority of the text. Books compiled by an editor and/or consisting of contributions of more than four writers are not eligible for the Douglas Stewart Prize. An award will not be given for a work consisting principally of photographs or illustrations unless the text is of substantial length and of sufficient merit in its own right. In such cases, no part of the prize money will be paid to the photographer or illustrator.

Works that blend fiction and non-fiction may be entered in either the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction or the Douglas Stewart Prize for non-fiction but not both. It is the entrant’s responsibility to determine which prize is most suitable for their work. 

Past winners

Cover image of the book Tiberius with a Telephone.
Scribe Publications
deep time dreaming book cover
Black Inc.
the trauma cleaner book cover
Text Publishing
Cover image of Passchendaele
Penguin Random House Australia
Book cover for Our Man Elsewhere In Search of Alan Moorehead by Thornton McCamish
Black Inc.

The Judging Panel

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Louise Edwards


Louise Edwards is Emeritus Professor of Chinese History at UNSW and Honorary Professor at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Modern Languages and Cultures and the University of Technology of Sydney’s Australia-China Research Institute. Her most recent sole-authored books include Citizens of Beauty: Drawing Democratic Dreams in Republican China (Seattle: Washington University Press, 2020), Women, Politics and Democracy: Women’s Suffrage in China (Stanford University Press 2008) and Women Warriors and Wartime Spies of China (Cambridge University Press 2016).  She is an elected Fellow of 3 learned academies: Academy of Humanities in Australia, the Australian Academy of Social Sciences and the Hong Kong Academy of Humanities. Between 2016-2018 she served as President of the Asian Studies Association of Australia.

Patrick Mullins

Patrick Mullins

Patrick Mullins is a Canberra-based writer and academic. He is the author of two books: Tiberius with a Telephone: the life and stories of William McMahon (2018), which won the National Biography Award and Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction, and The Trials of Portnoy (2020).

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Kate Holden

Kate Holden is the author of The Winter Road: A Story of Legacy, Land and a Killing at Croppa Creek (Black Ink, 2021), winner of the 2022 NSW Premier's Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction and the 2021 Walkley Book Award. Her memoirs In My Skin (2005) and The Romantic (2010) were bestsellers published by Text Publishing and internationally. Kate wrote a popular column for The Age for several years and has widely published essays, short stories, and literary criticism, and in various anthologies, appearing most recently with portraits and features in The Saturday Paper. She lives in the Illawarra.  

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Zoya Patel

Zoya Patel is the award-winning author of No Country Woman, a memoir of race, religion and feminism, and Once A Stranger (coming in 2023). She is co-host of the Guardian's Book It In podcast, and the Margin Notes podcast alongside Yen Eriksen. Zoya is a columnist for the RiotACT, and regular books critic and writer for the Guardian, Canberra Times, SBS Voices, Refinery29 and more. 

Zoya has won numerous awards for her writing and editing, and was a 2020 judge for the Stella Prize, and was the Chair of the 2021 Stella Prize Judging Panel. 

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Ryan O'Neill

Ryan O'Neill is the author of the short story collection The Weight of a Human Heart, and the novel Their Brilliant Careers: The Fantastic Lives of Sixteen Extraordinary Australian Writers, which won the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction. His latest book is The Drover's Wives: 99 Reinterpretations of Henry Lawson's Australian Classic

About Douglas Stewart

The award was established to commemorate the lifetime achievement of Douglas Alexander Stewart (1913–1985), poet, essayist and literary critic. Stewart, born in Eltham, New Zealand, published his first poems while still at school. He later worked as a journalist for the local newspaper before travelling overseas. A large number of his poems were first published in The Bulletin. Stewart would take on the position of literary editor in 1940 until the magazine changed ownership in 1961. It was in this role that he encouraged a number of poets of his generation, including David Campbell and Judith Wright. Stewart moved to become publishing editor with Angus & Robertson until 1972.