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A gripping biography of one of Australia’s most prominent religious figures, who demanded his private records be burnt posthumously, has won the State Library of NSW $25,000 National Biography Award for 2016.

The fiercely private Catholic Archbishop Daniel Mannix (1917-1963) is the challenging subject of Mannix by Brenda Niall, the work selected for Australia’s richest biography prize from a record 110 entries. The judges praised Niall for “recovering both the public identity and the fiercely protected private self to create a beautifully balanced portrait of a very complex and elusive character.”

The State Library would also like to congratulate the shortlisted authors who each received $1,000:

  • Martin Edmond Battarbee and Namatjira
  • Stephen FitzGerald Comrade Ambassador: Whitlam’s Beijing Envoy
  • Karen Lamb Thea Astley: Inventing Her Own Weather
  • Peter Rees Bearing Witness: The Remarkable Life of Charles Bean, Australia’s greatest war correspondent
  • Magda Szubanski Reckoning: A Memoir

There are still places available for the annual National Biography Award Lecture, to be delivered by 2015 award winner Dr Philip Butterss on Wednesday 10 August at 5:30pm. Dr Butterss will talk candidly about his biography of Australia’s most popular poet C J Dennis titled, An Unsentimental Bloke. Original C J Dennis materials will also be on display at this free event. Reserve your free ticket now.

The National Biography Award is administered and presented by the State Library on behalf of its benefactor Michael Crouch AO.