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The Australia Council for the Arts has recognised the outstanding contribution of writer Frank Moorhouse AM at a celebration held last night with his peers at the State Library of NSW.

Mr Moorhouse received The Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature at the event.

Australia Council Chief Executive Officer Tony Grybowski said Mr Moorhouse had been a popular choice for this year’s award and it was pleasing to see so many of his peers at last night’s celebration.

It is important that we acknowledge the contribution of writers such as Frank Moorhouse and he is a very worthy winner of this award, Mr Grybowski said.

Australia Council Literature Strategy Panel Chair Sophie Cunningham said Frank Moorhouse was one of the country’s most influential writers.

It is always difficult to select just one person from those nominated, but Frank’s highly influential, intelligent, timely and sparkling contributions to Australian literature over so many years was hard to beat, Ms Cunningham said.

Frank’s Edith is one of the great characters of Australian literature, but his career covers a lot more ground than that extraordinary achievement.

The assessors wanted to recognise Frank for more than fifty-five years work as a writer, as well as his broader advocacy for writers and their work.

It gave us great pleasure to give him the award and we plan to hold him to his promise to keep on writing.

President of the Australian Publishers Association Louise Adler, who nominated Mr Moorhouse, said he was one of Australia’s most illustrious living writers and his themes were universal and cosmopolitan while always authentically Australian.

He is a highly original writer, courageous, inventive and dazzlingly creative, Ms Adler said.

His Edith trilogy is a magisterial work that takes Australia to the world and brings the world home to Australia in a hugely original literary endeavour.

He has always passionately yet lucidly advocated for literature, has been an intellectual colleague of great generosity of spirit towards the community of writers and he has actively supported the book industry.

Mr Moorhouse said although winning the award reminded him of the passing of time he was very pleased to receive it.

It is something of a pinnacle as there is no other award like it in Australia and it is the most substantial, Mr Moorhouse said.

Mr Moorhouse said writing the Edith trilogy was the highlight of his career, for which he received an Australia Council Australian Artists Creative Fellowship in 1990 to research and write it.

They are historical novels and they have more universal appeal than perhaps my other books, Mr Moorhouse said.

Being given the time to live abroad in Geneva and create the trilogy was a great privilege and the voyage of discovery was fascinating.

The writing of the books was a great experience in itself, regardless of winning awards.

Mr Moorhouse is now writing his second essay on Australia’s spy agency, ASIO, and the controversy surrounding its increase in power, and he plans to write another work of fiction this time on Edith’s lover Ambrose.

It’s his side of the story and will look at what was going on when Edith wasn’t there, Mr Moorhouse said.

To watch Mr Moorhouse’s acceptance speech, go to


Frank Moorhouse was born in Nowra, NSW in 1938.

He began writing more than five decades ago, with a short story published in the Southerly journal in 1957 when he was 18.

Throughout his illustrious career Frank Moorhouse has won every major national prize for novels, short stories, essays and film scripts.

He is perhaps best known for his Edith trilogy, which follows the life of an idealistic Australian woman and her career at the League of Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

One of these books, Dark Palace, won the Miles Franklin Award in 2001.

His other novels explore themes of small town life, the Australian bush, travel, Australia’s diplomatic relationship with the world and the changing nature of male, female and gay identity.

Early in his career he developed a writing structure, which he called discontinuous narrative’, and his literary innovations have generated numerous academic studies.

Frank has written three feature films based on his work, including The Coca-Cola Kid, which was an official entry in the Cannes Film Festival, and his article The Writer in a Time of Terror won the Victorian Premiers’ Literary Award’s Alfred Deakin Prize for Essay Advancing Public Debate and a Walkley Award for Social Equity Journalism.


The Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, formerly the Writers’ Emeritus Award, acknowledges the achievements of eminent literary writers over the age of 60 who have made an outstanding and lifelong contribution to Australian literature.

Writers must be nominated for the award and demonstrate the literary eminence and importance of previous work.

Past winners include Bruce Dawe (2000), the late Christopher Koch (2007) and Herb Wharton (2012).



Brianna Roberts


(02) 9215 9030


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