Fellowship of Australian Writers

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The Fellowship of Australian Writers, also known as FAW, was established in Sydney in 1928. Its aim is to bring writers together and promote their interests. It covers such areas as government policy, literary awards, professional advice, representation of writers' rights and the promotion of literature.[1]

The various states and branches hold meetings and lectures, publish newsletters and anthologies, and run literary competitions and other regular or occasional events such as writers weeks and literary festivals.

History[edit]

Various claims have been made about its origin, but it seems that poet, Mary Gilmore, was encouraged by Roderic Quinn, and helped by Lucy Cassidy (wife of poet R.J. Cassidy), to hold a meeting of writers, at which a president, John Le Gay Brereton was elected.[2]

It was initially a Sydney-based organisation, but gradually spread to other states, with Victoria and Western Australia being the first.[2] In 1955 a federal council was created, with the national president rotating between the state presidents.

Early prominent members include: in New South Wales, Flora Eldershaw, Marjorie Barnard, Frank Dalby Davison, Dymphna Cusack, Miles Franklin and T. Inglis Moore; in Victoria, Nettie Palmer; and in Western Australia, Paul Buddee, Henrietta Drake-Brockman and Katharine Susannah Prichard.

Australian Authors' Week[edit]

In 1935 the Fellowship organised an Authors' Week to, in the words of their press release, "encourage the development of our national literature, especially by bringing the work of our authors before the general public and schools".[3] The week took place from 8 to 13 April and was held at Farmers' Blaxland Galleries. Events included personal appearances by authors, display of Australian books, dramatisations from Australian works, lectures by writers, radio broadcasts and an authors' ball.[4]

The Week was prompted by a longstanding desire of the Fellowship to strengthen the place of Australian literature in Australian society, and it was believed that a way to do this was to encourage a closer dialogue between authors and their audience. The week was preceded by significant promotion and communication to the community primarily through newspapers and magazines. An editorial written in The Telegraph during the week commented on the popularity of Ion Idriess and suggested that:

Therein is cause to hope that ere long the appreciation for Australian writings will grow and widen to embrace the works of many others who, with a growing confidence in ultimate success, are continually and obscurely working to give Australians a literature which they may call their own.[5]

The events of the week were mostly held during the day and hence primarily reached, or in some cases specifically targeted at, women, children and teachers. Indeed, it was generally accepted that women formed the bulk of the readership. Norman Lindsay, for example, wrote that "My personal opinion is that the average woman reads much better stuff than the average man".[6] In his Authors' Week talk, Frank Dalby Davison said that "many people preferred yelling themselves hoarse at a test match or racecourse to reading a book by a cultured author".[6]

Overall, the Week was deemed a success, with Marjorie Barnard writing that they'd received "a good deal of publicity" and were "pretty satisfied with the effort".[7]

Selected list of awards offered[edit]

The national, state and regional offices of the FAW offer a large number of literary competitions and awards. Listed here are some of the major ones. More awards can be found on the webpages of the individual offices (See under External Links below).

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Fellowship of Australian Writers (Vic) - About the Fellowship
  2. ^ a b Wilde et al. (1994)
  3. ^ cited by Dever (1992) p. 101
  4. ^ Dever (1992) p.101
  5. ^ cited by Dever (1992) p. 105
  6. ^ a b Dever (1992) p. 107
  7. ^ Dever (1992) p. 109
  8. ^ Bangsund (2004)
  9. ^ Fellowship of Australian Writers, 2004, FAW National Literary Awards 2004, accessed 16 July 2009

References[edit]

External links[edit]