An engrossing biography of Jane Franklin – indefatigable traveller and writer, formidable consort of Tasmanian governor and Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin – has won the $25,000 National Biography Award, Australia’s richest prize for life writing, the State Library of NSW announced TODAY [Monday 4 August 2014].
Tasmanian historian Alison Alexander won from a field of 61 entries for The Ambitions of Jane Franklin, Victorian Lady Adventurer, published by Allen & Unwin.
The judges – award-winning biographer Jacqueline Kent, critic and founding editor of the Sydney Review of Books, James Ley and Professor Melanie Nolan, General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography – praised Alexander’s research as well as the quality of her writing.
Chair Jacqueline Kent observed: “Drawing on a huge body of hitherto unpublished research as well as Franklin’s voluminous letters and journals, Alexander has written a full and astute biography of a highly intelligent, vital and strong-minded woman determined to transcend the limited expectations of her age and class.”
“The book is impressively light on its feet, and Alexander guides the reader through Franklin’s story with a great deal of writerly skill.”
The National Biography Award winner announcement marks the beginning of Biography Week (4 – 8 August), a public events program at the State Library of NSW. Following the announcement the Award judges will discuss Australian biography and memoir in a free event at 1pm.
Dr Linda Jaivin, novelist, translator and essayist, will talk about the truth in literature when she delivers the National Biography Award lecture on 6 August at 6pm.
The National Biography Award is administered and presented by the State Library on behalf of Dr Geoffrey Cains and Michael Crouch AO.
Please see full media release and judges’ comment attached.
Alison Alexander, Jacqueline Kent and Linda Jaivin are available for interviews.