2021 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards Judging panels
Non-fiction and Australian history panel
Mr Andrew Tink AM (Chair)
Andrew Tink is an historian and author of a number of acclaimed works. After eight years as a barrister and nineteen years in the NSW Parliament, Mr Tink stepped back from public life to concentrate on writing. His first book, 'William Charles Wentworth' (2009), won an Alex Buzo Shortlist Prize and 'The Nib' Award for Literature in 2010. His other books are: 'Lord Sydney' (2011); 'Air Disaster Canberra' (2013); 'Australia 1901–2001' (2014); and 'Honeysuckle Creek' (2018). A chapter from 'Honeysuckle Creek' was included in 'The Best Australian Science Writing 2019'. Mr Tink is a past president of the Library Council of NSW. He is an adjunct professor at Macquarie University.
Mr Chris Mitchell AO
Chris Mitchell is a media writer for 'The Australian' and retired newspaper editor. He received an AO in 2019 for services to journalism, the media industry and to Aboriginal education. He is an ambassador for the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. He has served on several academic business and journalism boards, the Queensland Events Corporation Board, the Queensland Police Community Liaison Board and was Chairman of Media Team Australia, a community liaison business for NGOs wanting to learn media skills.
Mr Mitchell began his career in 1973 at 'The Telegraph' in Brisbane and worked at 'The Daily Telegraph' and 'The Australian Financial Review' before being appointed editor of 'The Australian' in 1992. He became editor in chief of Queensland Newspapers in 1995 where he edited 'The Courier-Mail' and oversaw the 'Sunday-Mail', the 'Gold Coast Bulletin', 'The Cairns Post' and 'The Townsville Daily Bulletin'. He returned to Sydney in 2002 as editor in chief of 'The Australian', 'The Weekend Australian' and all the paper's colour magazines. He retired in December 2015.
Mr Troy Bramston
Troy Bramston is a senior writer and columnist with 'The Australian' newspaper. He is a best-selling author who has written or edited ten books, including 'Robert Menzies: The Art of Politics' (2019) and 'Paul Keating: The Big-Picture Leader' (2016). Mr Bramston co-authored 'The Truth of the Palace Letters' (2020) and 'The Dismissal' (2015) with Paul Kelly. He is currently writing a biography of Bob Hawke. Mr Bramston has been a co-winner of the Australian Book Industry Award, finalist for the Walkley Award and shortlisted for the National Biography Award. He was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001 for services to the centenary of federation commemorations.
Dr Deborah Hope
Deborah Hope is an Honorary Postdoctoral Associate at Macquarie University, Sydney. She has a PhD in Ancient History, a Master of Arts (Ancient History) and a Bachelor of Arts (Communication). Dr Hope is a former literary editor of 'The Australian', former editor of 'The Weekend Australian's Review' (dedicated to the arts, books and ideas), and was founding editor of 'Editor' ('The Australian's' weekly digest of international affairs). In her earlier journalism career, Dr Hope worked for 'The Sydney Morning Herald', 'The Bulletin' and 'The Australian' in Sydney, Canberra and Washington DC as a reporter, senior feature writer, commentator and columnist.
Professor Gail Pearson
Gail Pearson is an academic lawyer and historian. She writes on commercial law, financial services law and the nineteenth century. Her publishers include Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press. Before teaching law, she taught Australian and Asian history. As a Commonwealth Scholar she moved from Brisbane to New Delhi where she wrote on women and nationalism in Mumbai. Professor Pearson has founded academic associations, been president of the International Association of Consumer Law, a member of various advisory and compliance bodies, and is a board member of Consumers' Federation of Australia. She consults nationally and internationally.
Fiction and poetry panel
Professor Peter Holbrook FAHA (Chair)
Peter Holbrook is Professor of Literature at the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Australian Catholic University (Melbourne). He has written mainly about Shakespeare, often Shakespeare's relationship to other authors, and has taught a wide range of literature, from ancient to modern. He holds a B.A. (Hons) in English and Ancient Greek from the University of Melbourne and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in English from Yale. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. From 1996 to 2021 he worked at the University of Queensland where, from 2010-20, he was Professor and Director of the UQ Node of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (Europe 1100–1800). He remains an honorary research fellow at UQ. Professor Holbrook has served on the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, and, from 2011–16, was Chair of the International Shakespeare Association, which is based in Shakespeare's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon. He has written frequently for newspapers and magazines in Australia and on a variety of writers and topics, including the future of literary culture and literary education. His books include 'Shakespeare's Individualism' (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2010) and 'English Renaissance Tragedy: Ideas of Freedom' (London: Bloomsbury, 2015).
Mr Geoffrey Lehmann
Photo credit: Piers Laverty
Geoffrey Lehmann received the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Poetry in 2015 for his 'PoeMs 1957–2014' published by UWAP. He was the first Australian poet published by Faber & Faber, with his book, 'Spring Forest' being short-listed for the T S Eliot Prize in 1994. His first book of poetry, 'The Ilex Tree', a joint book with Les Murray, was published by ANU Press in 1965. He co-edited with Robert Gray three anthologies of Australian poetry, including the 1090 page 'Australian Poetry Since 1788' published by UNSW Press and one of the 'Economist's' best books of 2011. Starting in the early 1960s he was a reviewer of novels and poetry for 'The Bulletin', then for other Australian newspapers. He has been a partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, chairman of The Australian Tax Research Foundation and a member of various federal government bodies.
Dr Roslyn Jolly
Roslyn Jolly is an arts critic, travel writer and literary academic. From 1994–2013 she taught English Literature at UNSW, Sydney, specializing in nineteenth-century British and American literature, travel writing and postcolonial literature. She is the author of 'Henry James: History, Narrative, Fiction' (1993) and 'Robert Louis Stevenson in the Pacific: Travel, Empire, and the Author's Profession' (2009). Since 2014 she has worked as a freelance arts critic and travel writer, while also holding a position as Honorary Research Associate in the School of the Arts and Media at UNSW. Her current academic project is an edition of 'Henry James's Daisy Miller and Other Tales' for Cambridge University Press
Mr Peter Craven
Peter Craven is a literary and culture critic. He writes extensively for the 'Murdoch', 'Fairfax Press' and the 'Saturday Paper' on the widest range of matters, sometimes writing op-ed as well as writing about literature, theatre, film and television. He began the literary magazine 'Scripsi' with Michael Heyward and was subsequently the founding editor of 'Quarterly Essay' and of the Black Inc. annual 'Best of Anthologies' (essays, fiction and poetry). He was on the Board of Australian Book Review, has appeared in lists of public intellectuals and won the Geraldine Pascall Award for Criticism. He probably writes more journalism on literary and related matter than anyone else in the country and will sometimes review political and historical books. He also regularly writes pieces about Christmas and Easter. He describes himself as a highbrow hack. His work has occasionally appeared in the 'Times Literary Supplement' and 'London Review of Books'.
Children's and young adult literature panel
Mr James Roy (Chair)
Photo credit: Michelle Gibbons
James Roy has served as a judge on both the young adult and children's category panels for the NSW Premier's Literary Awards. Mr Roy is an author who has written a number of critically acclaimed works of fiction and non-fiction for young people, including two Children's Book Council of Australia Honour Books and six Children's Book Council of Australia Notable Books. He has twice won the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards, as well as the Golden Inky in Australia's only teenage choice awards and the 2010 Western Australian Premier's Book Award for young adult literature.
Ms Demet Divaroren
Demet Divaroren was born in Adana, Turkey, and migrated to Australia with her family when she was six months old. She is the author of 'Living on Hope Street', which won the 2018 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards Prize for Writing for Young Adults and was shortlisted for the 2018 Prime Minister's Literary Awards in the Young Adult Literature category. Ms Divaroren is the co-editor of the CBCA shortlisted 'Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia anthology'. Her writing has appeared in 'Griffith Review', 'The Age Epicure', 'The Big Issue', 'Island Magazine', 'From the Outer' and 'Best Summer Stories'. Ms Divaroren appears as a panellist, guest speaker and workshop leader at literary festivals, universities and schools across Melbourne.
Ms Erica Wagner
Photo credit: Helen Orr
Erica Wagner has worked as an editor and publisher of books for children and young adults for over three decades, including twenty years with Allen & Unwin. She is currently a freelance publishing consultant, mentor and project manager, as well as a co-director of Twelve Panels Press. The first children's book editor to receive the Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship in 1999, she was awarded the 2017 Dromkeen Medal and the 2020 Australian Book Industry's Pixie O'Harris Award for her significant contribution to Australian children's books.
Ms Paula Kelly Paull
Paula Kelly Paull has a background in education, community development, reading and literacy promotion, as well as library service leadership, development and management. She has worked in local, state and national government, including the State Library of Victoria where she managed the Centre for Youth Literature and life-wide reading and learning projects. In 2018-2020 Ms Paull was a Board Director of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). Holding senior Library and Community development roles Ms Paull has championed a range of highly innovative and impactful reading, library and literacy projects. She is a passionate advocate of the power of reading in people's lives and helped establish both the National Year of Reading in 2012, and the Australian Children's Laureate program. She is a Churchill Fellow; a Barrett Reid Scholarship recipient furthering her work in early literacy with vulnerable parents; and was highly commended for the Dromkeen Librarian's Award for strategic engagement of young people in libraries. Ms Paull has been involved in the development of numerous award-winning libraries that focus on sustainability, community engagement and lifelong reading and learning. Ms Paull is currently Leader Growth and Development with Raeco—Australia's leading Library and Learning spaces supplier.
Mr Richard Yaxley OAM
Richard Yaxley is the author of eight novels, as well as many short stories and poems. He is a former winner of the Prime Minister's Literary Award and the Queensland Premier's Literary Award—both for young adult literature, and his novel 'This Is My Song' was the 2020 Australian Catholic University Book of the Year. His 2021 work, 'A New Kind of Everything', was described as "an extraordinary journey that encourages insights and understanding about human nature" (Readings Magazine) and his most recent work, 'Harmony', as "a wonderful story of connectedness and family ties" (Lamont Books). A secondary school teacher for over thirty years, Mr Yaxley has master's degrees in human rights and cultural studies. In 2012, he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to education, literature and performing arts.