New biographies of Wayne Bergmann, Peter Matthiessen, Ruth Park and Eric Dark are one step closer to reality as would-be authors make the Hazel Rowley Fellowship shortlist

Fremantle Press author Madelaine Dickie is one of nine Australian writers shortlisted for the 2020 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship worth $15,000.

Madelaine, whose fictional works include her City of Fremantle Hungerford Award winning novel Troppo and her just-released second book Red Can Origami, is currently working on the biography of Wayne Bergmann, an Indigenous leader from the Kimberley.

Madelaine said, ‘Hazel Rowley was famed for shedding light on extraordinary people and her book about the rebellious Australian author Christina Stead was one of four critically acclaimed biographies [that she wrote]. If I can do justice to Wayne’s incredible story of resilience and leadership, I’ll feel like I’m doing justice to Hazel’s memory and her wish to give people the courage to “break out of their confined world”.’

Della Rowley, sister of Hazel Rowley, said she was excited to see the diverse range of subjects and literary approaches to biographical writing around Australia. In a media release about the award, she said, ‘This year we received a record number of applications coming from all States and Territories of Australia and the strength of the proposals has been reassuring. It is nine years since my sister died and we began the Fellowship, so it is wonderful that Hazel’s legacy continues to encourage and support Australian writers and biographers.’

Those also in the running for the Fellowship are: Margo Beasley (NSW) for a biography of Australian doctor and political activist Eric Dark; Diane Bell (ACT) for her proposed monograph ‘The Queen and the Protector’, about Ngarrindjeri woman Louisa Karpany and South Australian ‘Sub-Protector of Aborigines’ George Mason; Tegan Bennett Daylight (NSW) for a biography of New Zealand-born writer Ruth Park; Stephenie Cahalan (Tas), writing about Australian artist Jean Bellette; Gabrielle Carey (NSW) for a biography of Australian writer Elizabeth von Arnim; Shakira Hussein (Vic) for her memoir ‘NineEleven-itis’; Lance Richardson (NSW/USA), writing about American author, naturalist and Zen Buddhist Peter Matthiessen; and Suzanne Robinson (Vic) for her proposal ‘Decadent Melbourne’ about art, artists and immorality in the 1890s.

Director of Writers Victoria Angela Savage said that given the fellowship’s past successes, there was a good chance some of the projects would make it to print. She said, ‘Any one of the shortlisted entries would make for fascinating reading.’

The 2020 fellowship will be judged by biographers Jenny Hocking and Jeff Sparrow, along with Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan, Hazel’s close friend.

The winner of the 2020 fellowship will be announced at a special event at the Wheeler Centre on Friday 20 March 2020.

Madelaine Dickie’s books, Troppo and Red Can Origami, are available in all good bookstores and on the Fremantle Press website. She will be a guest at Perth Festival’s Literature and Ideas Weekend, 22–23 February.




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