The National Biography Award, supported by the Nelson Meers Foundation, celebrates excellence in biography, autobiography and memoir writing.
With a prize pool of $42,000 it is the nation’s richest prize for Australian biographical writing and memoir.
The Award was established in 1996 by Dr Geoffrey Cains and generously supported by the late Michael Crouch AC to encourage the highest standards of writing in biographical writing and to promote public interest in the genre.
On 6 August 2018 the State Library announced that the Nelson Meers Foundation would be supporting the Award moving forward. The Nelson Meers Foundation has generously increased the value of the prize for each of the shortlisted authors to $2,000. The Nelson Meers Foundation's key objective is to foster innovative artistic and cultural expression, and to encourage greater engagement with the diversity, complexity and richness of
our cultural sector. They support organisations and projects that utilise the arts to create positive social change, promote individual wellbeing, community cohesion and cultural tolerance.
In recognition of the long standing support from the late Michael Crouch AC the Nelson Meers Foundation will also fund an additional prize in his name for a first published biography/memoir by an Australian writer.
The Award’s growth and success recognises and reflects the continuing interest in stories about people with extraordinary lives.
In 2020 there will be a total of $42,000 in prize money:
• $25,000 for the winner
• $2,000 for each of six shortlisted authors
• $5,000 Michael Crouch Award for a first published biography by an Australian writer
2020 Winner and Shortlist
Margy Burn has headed Australian special collections at the National Library of Australia, the State Library of New South Wales, the State Library of South Australia and the University of Adelaide. She has served on working parties for the Australian Dictionary of Biography and was a foundation judge for the Kibble and Dobbie awards for life writing by a woman author. In retirement she plans to write more biographical entries for the Australian Women’s Register linking significant women to the institutions holding relevant archival records.
Mark McKenna is one of Australia's leading historians. He has written several highly acclaimed books which have won major national awards, including From the Edge: Australia's Lost Histories, An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark and Looking for Blackfellas' Point: An Australian History of Place.
Associate Professor Richard White retired from the University of Sydney in 2013, having taught Australian history there since 1989. His publications include Inventing Australia, The Oxford Book of Australian Travel Writing, On Holidays: A History of Getting Away in Australia and Symbols of Australia. He has been a judge for the Premier’s Literary Awards and other history prizes, served on the Friends of the State Library committee and initiated the establishment of the History Council of NSW. He was co-editor of the journal History Australia from 2008 to 2013 and is a member of several editorial boards.