Les Carlyon Literary Prize

He always said good writing was hard, and it was always about the words. If it flowed effortlessly and sparkled with clever imagery, you could be sure the author worked his/her butt off to produce the effort. Never bore, and inspire some response in the reader.

Denise Carlyon reflecting on her husband, Les Carlyon AC

The biennial prize is dedicated to the memory of Mr Les Carlyon AC, who passed away on 4 March 2019. Historian, author, journalist, and long serving member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial, Mr Carlyon wrote a number of works on Australian history, including the critically acclaimed Gallipoli (2001) and The Great War (2006). He served on the Council of the Australian War Memorial from May 2006 until his passing. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for “eminent service to literature through the promotion of the national identity as an author, editor and journalist, to the understanding and appreciation of Australia’s war history, and to the horseracing industry” in 2014. 


Previous winners

2020: Stephen Gapps, The Sydney Wars: Conflict in the early colony 1788-1817, NewSouth Publishing

2022: Christine Helliwell, Semut: The untold story of a secret Australian operation in WWII Borneo, Penguin Australia

The Les Carlyon Literary Prize is awarded for single-authored works of fiction and non-fiction relating to Australian military history, Australian social military history, or Australian war history. The author of the winning work receives a prize of $10,000. 

Entrants are required to submit five copies of the work for judging. Books submitted for the prize are not be returned. Current employees of the Australian War Memorial are ineligible.

Entries for the Les Carlyon Prize for works published between 2022 and 2024 are now open. Entries close 31 August 2024.


Judges assess entries on the following criteria: 

a)    Literary merit (written style and skill).

b)    Contribution to the understanding of Australia’s experience of war, military and/or social aspects.

c)    Authenticity and credibility in telling the story.


Please send entries to:

Les Carlyon Literary Prize

c/o Dr Karl James

Head, Military History

Australian War Memorial

GPO Box 345

Canberra ACT 2601

Email: LesCarlyonPrize@awm.gov.au 

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