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Winning biography ‘unmasks’ Australia’s first media magnate

A gripping biography of Australia’s first media magnate has won this year’s $25,000 National Biography Award, the State Library of NSW announced today.

The founding father of the Murdoch family empire, Sir Keith Murdoch, (1885–1952) is the fascinating subject of Before Rupert: Keith Murdoch and the Birth of a Dynasty (UQP) by Tom DC Roberts, the extraordinary work selected for Australia’s richest biography prize.

The judges praised Roberts for drawing on a remarkable range of untapped sources to provide new insights into a much mythologised life: “Before Rupert gives readers a new understanding of Keith Murdoch and the genesis of the family dynasty. The subject is thoroughly yet fairly interrogated, or perhaps we should say unmasked.”

“With the title as a clue, the full meaning of this legacy builds slowly as the masterly crafted narrative reveals the template for corporate ambition that was handed to Rupert. Roberts has successfully isolated what may well be called the ‘Murdoch gene’,” the judges said.

Before Rupert draws on Roberts’ ground‐breaking research into the life and legacy of Sir Keith Murdoch, undertaken around the world over a four‐year period. This is the media historian’s first book as a sole author.

According to acting NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive Lucy Milne: “Each year the National Biography Award adds to our rich collection of incredible stories about our nation and its people. This year’s winner is an outstanding addition to the collection.”

The National Biography Award is administered and presented by the State Library on behalf of its benefactor the late Michael Crouch AC.

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