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Longlist announced for prestigious Tasmanian book prize

Nine books have made the longlist for the State’s most significant book prize, the Dick and Joan Green Family Award for Tasmanian History.

The $25,000 biennial award recognises high-quality published works that make a significant contribution to our understanding of Tasmania’s past and seeks to celebrate books on the island’s history and cultural heritage.

Among the works recognised are two stories about Tasmania’s Black War, the first whitefella ferryman on the Arthur River by North-West Coast author Pam Wood and the plight of child prisoners sent to Van Diemen’s Land by a former editor-in-chief of The Age and Herald Sun, Steve Harris.

Revealed today, the longlist consists of:

  • The Vandemonian War by Nick Brodie (Hardie Grant Publishing);
  • Swanston: Merchant Statesman by Eleanor Robin (Australian Scholarly Publishing);
  • The National Picture: the art of Tasmania's Black War by Tim Bonyhady and Greg Lehman (National Gallery of Australia);
  • 'Me Write Myself': The Free Aboriginal Inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land at Wybalenna, 1832-47 by Leonie Stevens (Monash University Publishing);
  • The Lost Boys of Mr Dickens: How the British Empire turned artful dodgers into child killers by Steve Harris (Melbourne Books);
  • Good people always crackney in heaven.' Mythic conversations in lutruwita/Tasmania by Grant Finlay (Fullers Publishing Pty Ltd);
  • The Convict Letter Writer by Alice Meredith Hodgson (Forty South Publishing Pty Ltd);
  • Bound By Every Tie of Duty: John Lewes Pedder, Chief Justice of Van Diemen's Land by Jacqueline Fox (Australian Scholarly Publishing Pty Ltd);
  • Waiting in the Wilderness: the Arthur River Ferryman: (1878-1913) Thames to Tarkine by Pam Wood (Forty South Publishing).

Chair of the award’s judging panel and Executive Dean of the College of Arts, Law and Education at the University of Tasmania, Professor Kate Darian-Smith, said a depth and richness of scholarship shone through from the entries.

“We are seeing a wonderful vibrancy and diversity in books about Tasmanian history and heritage, with some finely produced books by a range of publishers,” Professor Darian-Smith said.

“This level of interest in telling stories of our place, its people and communities indicates the richness of Tasmanian history, not just for local readers but in contributing to Australia’s development and place in the world.”

The award was set up to commemorate and celebrate the contribution Joan Green, and her late husband, Dick made to Tasmania.

Both from Launceston, the Greens were key players in the establishment of the National Trust and have been strong supporters of the arts and many community organisations.

Dick Green was a former alderman and Mayor of Launceston and served on various boards, while Joan Green was a champion golfer and, for more than 50 years, has contributed to a variety of organisations.

Speaking on behalf of the Green family, Caroline Johnston, one of Dick and Joan’s daughters, said:

“The family is pleased to see the announcement of the longlist with such a diverse range of people and their stories from Tasmania’s past.”

The shortlist for the award, which is managed by the University of Tasmania, will be announced on 1 May 2020, with the winner revealed in June.

More information can be found on the University of Tasmania or the Green Family Award websites.

Image: Tasmanian Aborigines, 1856-57, by Robert Dowling, National Gallery of Victoria.

Published on: 04 Mar 2020 11:20am