Whitlam work shortlisted for PMs prize

Professor Jenny Hocking

Professor Jenny Hocking

A biography of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by a Monash University academic has been shortlisted for the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

In the second volume of her biography of the former Prime MinisterProfessor Jenny Hocking from the University’sNational Centre for Australian Studies looks behind the political intrigue to reveal Whitlam’s personal struggle in the aftermath of the ‘Dismissal', the unfulfilled years that followed and his eventual political renewal as Australia's ambassador to UNESCO. 

Shortlisted in the Australian History Prize section of the Awards, Gough Whitlam: His Time has enabled Professor Hocking to use previously unearthed archival material and extensive interviews with Mr Whitlam, his family, colleagues and foes, to bring the key players in these dramatic events to life. 

Professor Hocking said she was honoured to be shortlisted for such a prestigious literary award and was particularly pleased to be considered in the category of the Australian History Prize. 

“For the book to be nominated as a work of history in one of Australia’s foremost most significant literary awards is an indication of the strength of historical and biographical writing in Australia,” Professor Hocking said.

“It recognises that academic research can be translated into an engaging form of storytelling with a wide audience reach and great impact. The Australian History Prize section of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards is only a recent addition to the awards, highlighting the growing recognition of historical and biographical writing as a genre.” 

Gough Whitlam, Australia's twenty-first prime minister, swept to power in December 1972, ending twenty-three years of conservative rule. It was an ascendancy bitterly resented by some, never accepted by others, and ended with dismissal by the Governor-General barely three years later — an outcome that polarised debate and left many believing the full story had not yet been told.

Professor Hocking’s remarkable discovery, in the private papers of Sir John Kerr, of the role of the High Court justice Sir Anthony Mason in the Governor-General’s decision to dismiss the Whitlam government, has been described as ‘of historic significance’. 

“With this new material, and with a biographical subject in Australia’s broader political landscape, Gough Whitlam’s fascinating life and career, I hope this book contributes to our understanding of Gough Whitlam and his place in Australian history.”

Now in their sixth year, the 2013 shortlists recognises the best in Australian fiction, poetry, non-fiction, history, young adult and children’s fiction published in 2012. 

A total of $595,000 will be awarded in six Award categories, making the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards the richest literary awards in Australia. A prize of $80,000 will be awarded to the winner of each of the award categories.

Professor Hocking’s first volume on the former prime minister, Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History (Miegunyah Press 2008) was short-listed for the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literature 2009. It was also shortlisted for The Age Non-Fiction Book of the Year, the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and the Magarey Medal for Biography, and long-listed for the 2009 Walkley Awards Non-fiction Book Award 2009.

Gough Whitlam: His Time is available through Miegunyah Press.

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