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August 17, 2022

 National Biography Award - stack of books on table

The State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW) has announced the winner for the $25,000 National Biography Award.

This winner is Leaping Into Waterfalls: The enigmatic Gillian Mears (Bernadette Brennan, A&U)

Judges Suzanne Falkiner, Rick Morton and Mandy Sayer called Leaping into Waterfalls an ‘intimate portrayal’ of the complicated life and premature death of Australian writer Gillian Mears, and praised Brennan’s ‘graceful writing and sensitive approach to an enigmatic and often contradictory personality’.

‘This brilliant and balanced biography details her rural childhood and deep emotional enmeshment with her three sisters, her prodigious and restless love life, her spiritual journeys, her writing process, her appalling treatment of friends and publishers, her soaring talent, and her inexorable descent into illness.

‘From this impressively researched, intense account—replete with intimate psychological detail—Mears emerges as insecure, self-obsessed, self-dramatising, demanding, shy, ruthless, self-promoting, solitary, and yet with an ability to charm and draw people into an intense involvement in her life and writing.’


Selected from 101 entries, the shortlisted works were:

The six shortlisted authors each receive $2000.

Cassandra Pybus won the 2021 prize for Truganini: Journey through the apocalypse (A&U).