Submissions open


Entries for the 2021 National Biography Award are now open.

Please read the guidelines carefully before you make a submission.

2021 National Biography Award Guidelines

Enter now

For more information please contact the Senior Project Officer, Awards.

Email: awards@sl.nsw.gov.au
Telephone: (02) 9273 1605 or (02) 9273 1582

About the Award

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 2021 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

2021 Judges

Rick Morton

Rick Morton

Rick Morton is the author of three non-fiction books. His debut memoir, One Hundred Years of Dirt (MUP, 2018) became a national bestseller and was shortlisted for the National Biography Award 2019, highly commended in the 2019 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards and longlisted for the 2018 Walkley Book of the Year, both Biography Book of the Year and the Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year in the 2019 ABIA Awards. He is also the author of On Money (Hachette, 2020) and his latest, My Year of Living Vulnerably (4th Estate, 2021).

Rick is an award-winning journalist and is senior reporter at The Saturday Paper where he covers social policy, national affairs and science.

Past winners and shortlists


Cover image of Tiberius with a telephone
Cover Image of The Girls by Chloe Higgins
Cover image of Beyond Words by Jacqueline Kent
Cover Image Things Nobody Knows But Me
Cover image Hearing Maud by Jessica White
UWA Publishing


No Friend But the mountain
book cover image
the trauma cleaner book cover
One Hundred Years of Dirt
Miss Ex Yugoslavia