Australian War Memorial announces inaugural Les Carlyon Literary Prize

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The Australian War Memorial will continue the legacy of eminent historian, author and journalist Mr Les Carlyon AC by establishing a new literary prize in his honour.

Recognising Mr Carlyon’s contribution to Australian history and literature, the Les Carlyon Literary Prize will encourage and support emerging writers. The prize will be awarded biennally for an author’s first book or major publication relating to Australian military history, Australian social military history, or war history, with entries open to works of fiction and non-fiction published in 2018–20.   

Entries for the inaugural prize will open on 25 April and close on 30 June 2020, with a judging panel including a representative from the Carlyon family, and Mr Ashley Ekins, former Head of Military History at the Memorial and friend of the late Mr Carlyon. The winner will receive a prize of $10,000.

Assistant Director Public Programs at the Australian War Memorial Ms Anne Bennie said the new award is a fitting way of honouring Mr Carlyon’s memory. 

“Les made a lasting contribution to Australian writing and Australian literature, giving inspiration to countless writers, journalists and historians over a long and distinguished career. The Memorial is proud to announce this new literary prize in his name, and we thank the Carlyon family for their support,” she said.

Head of the Military History Section Dr Karl James said Mr Carlyon’s legacy continues to loom large among Australian military history writers.

“Mr Carlyon’s evocative storytelling captured the experiences of Australians at war with a talent and style unmatched by many other authors. His words inspired his readers,” Dr James said.

Mr Les Carlyon AC was a member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial from May 2006 until his passing in March 2019. He wrote numerous books on Australian history, including the critically acclaimed Gallipoli (2001) and The Great War (2006). 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.

Entrants and/or publishers will be required to submit five copies of the work for judging, including postage costs. Shortlisted finalists will be announced in October, and the winner in November 2020.

Following judging, copies of submitted works will be offered as donations to the Memorial’s National Collection via the Research Centre.

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