Submissions closed


Entries for the 2021 Russell Prize for Humour Writing and the 2021 Russell Prize for Humour Writing for Young People have now closed.

2021 Russell Prize for Humour Writing 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 Russell Prize for Humour Writing, was established at the bequest of Peter Wentworth Russell to celebrate, recognise and encourage humorous writing, and to promote public interest in this genre. It is the only award to recognise the art of humour writing in Australia.

The prize is administered by the State Library of NSW and Foundation and has been made possible through the generous bequest of the late Peter Wentworth Russell, a farmer and businessman remembered for his appreciation of humour.  Find out more about Peter Russell and how the Russell Prize was established. 

The Russell Prize is the only award for humour writing in Australia and one of few in the world. It takes its place alongside the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize in the UK, the Thurber Prize for American Humour and the Leacock Memorial Medal for Canadian Humour. The prize marks a long overdue acknowledgment of the genre in Australia, and is set to promote public interest in humour writing just as its prestigious international counterparts have done.

The Russell Prize for Humour Writing will be awarded biennially for the work which is judged to be the best book of humour writing by an Australian author and published in the previous two years. Light or dark, fun or farce, published works of fiction, memoir, poetry and verse by Australian writers will be considered for the biennial $10,000 prize.  

In 2021, the inaugural Children’s Award ($5,000) is offered for a work promoting humour and championing laughter. The award is aimed at primary school level readers (5-12 years).

2021 Judging panel

Mark Dapin

Mark Dapin

Panel Chair

Mark Dapin is a well-known author and journalist. He wrote a long-running column for Good Weekend magazine in the Sydney Morning Herald.

He is a one-time judge of the Walkley Award for Feature Writing.

His books are often shortlisted for literary prizes but rarely win them. An exception was his humorous crime novel, King of the Cross, which won a Ned Kelly Award.

Piers Grove

Piers Grove

Piers is an founder and producer. 

He is a Logie-nominated TV producer who works on documentary and comedy projects. He has produced 80+ hours of original content for ABC, Nine, Foxtel and SBS. He also publishes the deadly serious regional newspaper, The Betoota Advocate, and the youth news service, The Daily Aus.

He is the co-founder and chair of EnergyLab and Boomerang Labs – not for profit initiatives to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, zero carbon economy.

Other roles include Chair of Keep Sydney Open; Chair of the Gun Control Australia and Governor of WWF-Australia.

Joy Lawn

Joy Lawn reviews young adult literature for the Weekend Australian. Her reviews and interviews have also appeared in Australian Book Review, SMH/The Age, Books+Publishing and professional journals.

She has judged the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, Qld Literary Awards and other prestigious awards.

Joy blogs about literary fiction, young adult and children’s literature at https://paperbarkwords.blog/ and loves moderating sessions at Sydney and Brisbane Writers Festivals. She promotes Australian literature here and overseas.

Past winners and shortlists


Boy Swallows Universe cover
Front cover of Deadly Kerfuffle
cover image of the drover's wives
Cover image of the Helen 100
The Lucky Galah


Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure
True Girt
A Toaster on Mars
Error Australis
The Anti-Cool Girl