Submissions closed


Entries for the 2021 National Biography Award have now closed.

The shortlist will be announced in July 2021.

2021 National Biography Award Guidelines (for reference only)

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

Suzanne Falkiner

Suzanne Falkiner

Panel Chair

Suzanne Falkiner is a Sydney writer. She has worked as an editor for book and magazine publishers, written book reviews and travel journalism, and run a small independent publishing company.

Among some dozen books of fiction and non-fiction, she has written a number of biographies, the most recent of which, Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow, was shortlisted for several literary awards.

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.

Mandy Sayer

Mandy Sayer

Mandy Sayer won the Vogel Award with her first novel, Mood Indigo.  Since then she has published six works of fiction, six works of non-fiction, and two literary anthologies. 

Her other awards include the National Biography Award, and Audio Book of the Year, (Dreamtime Alice: A Memoir); the South Australian Premier's Award for Non-Fiction and the AGE Book of the Year for Non-Fiction (Velocity: A Memoir) and the Western Australian Premier's Award for Non-fiction (shortlisted, The Poet's Wife: A Memoir).   

Past winners and shortlists


Cover image of the enigmatic mr deakin
Front cover image of Songs of a War Boy
Front cover image of Paul Keating: the big-picture leader
Front cover image of A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work
Front cover image of Writing for Raksmey
Cover image of the boy behind the curtain


Cover image of Before Rupert
Cover image of The Unknown Judith Wright
UWA Publishing
Cover image of Mick
UWA Publishing
Book cover Position Doubtful by Kim Mahood
Cover Evatt
NewSouth Publishing
The Long Goodbye
Hardie Grant Books

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