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Wright wins 2014 Stella Prize for ‘The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka’

The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright (Text) is the winner of the 2014 Stella Prize for women’s writing.

Wright was presented with the $50,000 prize at an awards ceremony in Sydney on Tuesday 29 April and announced she would donate 10% of the prize money, to be split between the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) and her local high school.

Wright’s nonfiction work was chosen from a shortlist of six, of which three were fiction and three were nonfiction.

The shortlist for the 2014 award was:

  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Picador)
  • Night Games by Anna Krien (Black Inc)
  • The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane (Penguin)
  • Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir by Kristina Olsson (UQP)
  • The Swan Book by Alexis Wright (Giramondo)
  • The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright (Text).


The shortlist was chosen from a longlist of 12 books, selected from more than 160 entries by judges Goldsworthy, journalist Annabel Crabb, author Brenda Walker, bookseller Fiona Stager and author Tony Birch.

Wright said it felt ‘astonishingly good to have won the Stella’ and said she was ‘honoured to be in the company of these brilliant authors’.

‘Of all the prizes on offer, I reckon this one is the sweetest of all. The Stella Prize is like the Brownlow Medal of the literary world: all muscle and spine, with a touch of glamour.’

She thanked the judges, the board and donors, as well as her ‘magnificent publishers, Text Publishing, for taking the plunge on a big book of historical nonfiction about a bunch of noisy sheilas getting up to no good on the nineteenth-century frontier’.

Wright said the donation of 10% of the prize money would ‘allow the ILF to get twenty early literacy kits in the Book Buzz project into the hands of families … in the family engagement program that is run in Alice Springs through the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress’, while the money for Northcote High School would be ‘held in trust to fund an annual academic award, the Eureka Prize for Women’s History’.

Last year’s inaugural winner Carrie Tiffany also donated a percentage of her winnings—$10,000 to be split between the other authors shortlisted for the 2013 award. This year, the other authors shortlisted receive $2000 courtesy of the Nelson Meers Foundation. 

Chair of the judging panel Kerryn Goldsworthy said Wright’s winning book—the first nonfiction winner of the award—was ‘a rare combination of true scholarship with a warmly engaging narrative voice’. She called it ‘compulsively readable’ and said that it ‘sheds a bright new light on a dark old Australian story’.

‘In her account of the Eureka Stockade and the years leading up to it, historian Clare Wright revisits that well-trodden territory from an entirely new perspective, unearthing images, portraits and stories of the women of 1850s Ballarat and the parts they played not only in its society but also in its public life, as they ran newspapers, theatres and hotels with energy and confidence,’ said Goldsworthy.

Wright’s first book was Beyond the Ladies Lounge: Australia’s Female Publicans (MUP). The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka is her second book and took her 10 years to research and write.

Text reports that the hardback edition of The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka is currently in stock, with the paperback edition available from 8 May.

The Stella Prize was established to celebrate Australian women’s contribution to literature. The winner of the inaugural 2013 award was Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany (Picador). 

For more information, visit the Stella Prize website here.



Category: Local news