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Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2017 winners announced

Sydney-based writer, actor and playwright Leah Purcell has won the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature for her play The Drover’s Wife (Currency Press) at this year’s Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

The play, which is described as ‘Tarantino meets Deadwood in the backblocks of 19th century Australia’, also won in the category of drama, worth $25,000. The panel of judges said Purcell’s dramatic reimagining of Henry Lawson’s short story ‘explodes out of the blocks with a moment of stark brutality and never lets up’.

The Drover’s Wife premiered at the Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney in September 2016 and starred Purcell in the title role.

Author Georgia Blain posthumously won the prize for fiction for Between a Wolf and a Dog (Scribe). Blain had been notified of the win before her death, and her husband Andrew Taylor accepted the award.

The winning titles in each category are:


  • Between a Wolf and a Dog (Georgia Blain, Scribe)


  • Offshore: Behind the Wire on Manus and Nauru (Madeline Gleeson, NewSouth)


  • Carrying the World (Maxine Beneba Clarke, Hachette)

Young adult

  • When Michael Met Mina (Randa Abdel-Fattah, Pan)


  • The Drover’s Wife (Leah Purcell, Currency Press)

People’s choice award

  • When Michael Met Mina (Randa Abdel-Fattah, Pan).

The winners were announced on 31 January at a ceremony in Melbourne.

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards also includes two further awards announced in 2016: the award for an unpublished manuscript, which went to Melanie Cheng for Australia Day (Text), and the biennial prize for Indigenous writing, which was awarded to Tony Birch for Ghost River (UQP).

To see all the titles shortlisted for this year’s Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, click here. For more information about the awards, visit the Wheeler Centre website.


Category: Awards Local news