Shortlist announced for Australia’s richest biography and memoir prize

SLNSW-2022-National-Biography-AwardThe State Library of NSW has announced the memoirs of Helen Garner, David Williamson AO, Amani Haydar and Lech Blaine, along with biographies of some of Australia’s best-known writers, have been shortlisted for the 2022 National Biography Award – Australia’s richest prize for biographical and memoir writing.

Selected from 109 entries, the shortlisted works are:
Car Crash: A Memoir by Lech Blaine (Black Inc. Books)
Leaping into Waterfalls: The enigmatic Gillian Mears by Bernadette Brennan (Allen & Unwin)
One Day I’ll Remember This: Diaries 1987–1995 by Helen Garner (Text Publishing)
The Mother Wound by Amani Haydar (Pan Macmillan Australia)
Into the Loneliness: The unholy alliance of Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates by Eleanor Hogan (NewSouth)
Home Truths: A Memoir by David Williamson AO (HarperCollins Publishers)

The 2022 Award was assessed by an independent judging panel: Suzanne Falkiner, Rick Morton and Mandy Sayer.

“This year’s entries offered an exciting diversity of subjects and styles, ranging from sensitive personal memoirs to deeply researched historical biographies. This made the task of reducing the longlist to a shortlist extremely difficult,” said Senior Judge, Suzanne Falkiner.

Once again, due to a high proportion of accomplished works by debut authors, the judges have selected three Highly Commended titles:
Muddy People: A Memoir by Sara El Sayed (Black Inc. Books)
Black and Blue: a memoir of racism and resilience by Veronica Gorrie (Scribe Publications)
Mother and I: The Fable of a Wilful Family by Ianto Ware (Hunter Publishers)

The National Biography Award has a total prize pool of $42,000. The overall winner will receive $25,000. The $5,000 Michael Crouch AC Award will be awarded to the best debut biography or memoir in honour of the late Library benefactor and former Award supporter. In addition, each shortlisted author will receive $2,000.

The award is supported by the State Library of NSW Foundation and has been a fixture on Australia’s literary calendar thanks to the generosity over the years of Dr Geoffrey Cains, the late Michael Crouch AC, and the Nelson Meers Foundation.

“We all want to make sense of our own lives, and one powerful way of doing that is to examine the lives of those around us. The examined life is worth living — and where better to start a new chapter than with the National Biography Award,” said State Librarian John Vallance.

The winner of the 2022 National Biography Award will be announced in August. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: 2022 National Biography Shortlist Stack – courtesy of State Library of NSW