Jul
6

National Biography Award shortlist announced

 

Six powerful personal stories have been shortlisted for the 2015 National Biography Award, the State Library of NSW announced TODAY [Monday 6 July]. This year Australia’s pre-eminent prize for biographical writing and memoir celebrate 20 years since it began. 
The shortlisted books for the $25,000 National Biography Award 2015 are:
Philip Butterss, An Unsentimental Bloke: The Life and Work of C.J. Dennis (Wakefield Press)
Gabrielle Carey, Moving Among Strangers: Randolph Stow and My Family (UQP)
Philip Dwyer, Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power 1799-1815 (Bloomsbury)
David Leser, To Begin to Know: Walking in the Shadows of My Father (Allen & Unwin)
Helen O’Neill, A Singular Vision, Harry Seidler (Harper Collins Publishers)
Liam Pieper, The Feel-Good Hit of the Year: A Memoir (Penguin Books Australia)

Six powerful personal stories have been shortlisted for the 2015 National Biography Award, the State Library of NSW announced TODAY [Monday 6 July]. This year Australia’s pre-eminent prize for biographical writing and memoir celebrates 20 years since it began. The shortlisted books for the $25,000 National Biography Award 2015 are:

Philip Butterss, An Unsentimental Bloke: The Life and Work of C.J. Dennis (Wakefield Press)

Gabrielle Carey, Moving Among Strangers: Randolph Stow and My Family (UQP)

Philip Dwyer, Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power 1799-1815 (Bloomsbury)

David Leser, To Begin to Know: Walking in the Shadows of My Father (Allen & Unwin)

Helen O’Neill, A Singular Vision, Harry Seidler (Harper Collins Publishers)

Liam Pieper, The Feel-Good Hit of the Year: A Memoir (Penguin Books Australia)

The winner will be announced on Monday 3 August at 11am at a special free event at the State Library. 

See the full media release and judges' comments attached.

Download media release
Jul
6

See Australia's first celebrity exports in new State Library exhibition

Before they became celebrated Australian icons, the koala and waratah left early colonists almost ‘star struck’ with their unique and striking appearance! And this fascination with Australia’s flora and fauna hasn’t waned.

A new exhibition opening at the State Library of NSW this week [Wednesday 8 July] will explore how the koala and the waratah were first depicted over 200 years ago, and how they – along with the Sydney Opera House – have evolved over time to quickly become national icons.

According to Australian Inspiration exhibition curator Sarah Morley, “The koala was so unique that early colonists found it difficult to draw – in 1803, Australian artist John William Lewin (1770-1819) was the first person to draw a koala, from a specimen that was brought from Mount Kembla to Sydney.”

Ms Morley says Lewin was instantly captivated by the foreign landscape and exotic wildlife and was the first to turn Australia’s emblematic natural history into art!

“Dorothy Wall brought the koala to life in 1933 with her cheeky little character called Blinky Bill, and by the 1960s it was used by Qantas to promote Australian tourism.”

The waratah has had a similarly fascinating journey that helped establish an Australian national identity and give NSW its state flower. The earliest known drawing dates back to 1794 and it continues to be a source of inspiration for fashion designers (eg. Jenny Kee and Romance was Born), artists (eg. Julie Patterson and paper technician Benja Harney) and lighting artists (the waratah featured prominently on Customs House during VIVID).

Jorn Utzon's original sketch of Australia’s most iconic building, the Sydney Opera House, has captured people’s imagination internationally. It has not only sold Australia to the world, but inspired designs by our leading artists including Martin Sharp, Peter Kingston and Barbara Davidson.

See the full media release attached.

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Jun
25

Witty Aussie satire snatches nation's first humour writing prize

Bernard Cohen’s witty novel/political satire that gives Aussies a “most elegant kick in the teeth we didn’t know we needed” has won Australia’s inaugural humour writing prize, the State Library of NSW announced tonight.

Sydney writer Bernard Cohen won the $10,000 biennial Russell Prize for Humour Writing for The Antibiography of Robert F. Menzies (HarperCollins Publishers), selected from a diverse field of 57 entries.

The judges – Dr Kathryn Heyman, Paula Tierney and James Tierney – praised the “biting wit” of the novel and its “ambitious themes, ridicule and craft.”

“At times a reader might be encountering a novel, a biography, a political satire or the wittiest PhD exegesis there’s ever been,” the judges reported.

Chair judge Kathryn Heyman observed: “Bursting with many perfectly choreographed moments, the judges felt that Cohen perfectly captured the states of nervy restlessness in the Australian psyche, while possessing the grace of great fiction.”

The novel is set in Canberra where a soon-to-be-elected prime minister invokes the spirit of Sir Robert Menzies. Increasingly discontented with his role as mere nostalgic symbol, Menzies makes a run for it and with much hilarity the Antibiographer seizes the opportunity to document the most significant untold story in Australian political history, and save his career!

See the full media release attached.

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