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.

Download media release

NSW State Library collection record $3 billion value

The State Library of NSW’s collection has just been valued at $3.15 billion, highlighting its reputation as the most valuable library collection in Australia and among the most valuable in the world.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts, Troy Grant said this latest valuation, just over a $1 billion increase since 2010, reinforces the State Library as one of the leading libraries in the world.

“I’m proud the NSW Government’s support of the State Library’s Digital Excellence program is making our most historically significant cultural treasures available to all through a major digitisation project. This benefits regional NSW and beyond.”  

The State Library’s heritage collection contains some of Australia’s most historically significant items, including the original charts by Matthew Flinders and First Fleeter William Bradley, early drawings of Australian flora and fauna, and the works of famous literary figures of the past and today such as Henry Lawson, Patrick White and Kate Grenville.

According to Alex Byrne, NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive: “With the Library’s entire world-class collection now searchable online as a result of the Government-funded eRecords Project, the independent valuers were able to identify more collection items which met the criteria for individual valuation.”

“The valuers were also able to sight a greater number of collection items thanks to the Digital Excellence Program’s digitisation project,” said Dr Byrne

See the full media release attached.
Dr Alex Byrne is available for interviews

Download media release

World's largest Atlas finds home in Australia's oldest library

Australia’s only copy of the world’s largest atlas – measuring a mammoth 1.8 x 2.7 metres open – is on public display in the State Library’s Mitchell Library Reading Room for the next four weeks.

The Earth Platinum is a spectacular new addition to the State Library of NSW’s rich collections, which also boasts the world’s first atlas produced in 1570 by Ortelius.

Only 31 copies of the 150 kilo, limited edition Earth Platinum atlas were released by publisher Millennium House (Sydney) in 2012. Not surprisingly, it is listed in the Guinness World Records!

More than 100 international cartographers, geographers and photographers from across the globe were involved in the production of the maps included in the atlas. The 128 pages contain 61 pages of maps, 27 images of famous locations (including St.Peter's Basilica, the Antarctic and Machu Picchu) and a double-page spread of the world’s national flags. Many of the images were made from stitching together 1,000 individual photos, and the largest image has 12,000 photos joined together.

The atlas was printed in Italy and bound in Hong Kong. Now Australians can see it in person for the first time at the State Library of NSW.

See the full media release attached.

Download media release

[ Newer media releases | Home | Older media releases ]

State Library of NSW Media Centre

For more detailed information, images and interviews please contact:

Vanessa Bond, Manager
Media & Communications Branch
State Library of NSW
+61 2 9273 1566 / 0411 259 898


Enter your email address to subscribe to the Media Centre. You will be notified whenever a new entry is posted.

Ministerial media releases

Media releases issued by the Minister for the Arts and Minister Assisting the Premier on the Arts are available on the Communities NSW website.

Requesting an image

The Library offers digital images of out-of-copyright photographs and collection items to media free of charge*.

To request an image, please locate the image on the Library's catalogue and send the catalogue record & digital order number to vbond@sl.nsw.gov.au
*some conditions will apply

Filming at the Library

Looking for a great venue to shoot your next film, commercial or fashion feature? The Library offers a range of locations, featuring one of Sydney's finest Art Nouveau interiors to more contemporary décor.

For more information, please contact our Venue Hire department.

For non commercial filming requests, please contact vbond@sl.nsw.gov.au

Media archive

5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

2010 and earlier media releases

to top of page
To top