Fellowship of Australian Writers

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The Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) was established in Sydney in 1928, with the aim of bringing writers together and promoting their interests. The organisation played a key role in the establishment of the Australian Society of Authors in 1963, a national body and now the main professional organisation in Australia for writers of literary works.

As of 2018, the following state-based independent organisations carried the name: Fellowship of Australian Writers NSW Inc. (a continuation of the original), Fellowship of Australian Writers Queensland, Fellowship of Australian Writers Tasmania, Fellowship of Australian Writers (VIC) Inc., and the Fellowship of Australian Writers (WA) Inc., most of which were founded in the 1930s.


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.[1]

It was initially a Sydney-based organisation, but gradually spread to other states, with Victoria and Western Australia being the first.[1] 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.

The FAW was, with ex-Prime Minister Jim Scullin, largely responsible for a trebling of the Commonwealth Literary Fund's budget in 1939.[2]

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]



The FAW Patricia Weickhardt Award to an Aboriginal Writer was awarded from 1976 to 1991. Winners included David Unaipon (posthumously), Sally Morgan, Oodgeroo Noonuccal and Dick Roughsey[8]

In 1999, David Foster and Bruce Pascoe jointly won the FAW Australian Literature Award.[9][10]


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.


The Victorian chapter offers national awards known as the Fellowship of Australian Writers Victoria Inc. National Literary Awards, which as of 2019 open on 1 September and close on 30 November of each year. These comprise 16 awards, including the Christopher Brennan Award and the Christina Stead Award.[13]


Presidents of the Fellowship of Australian Writers include:[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Wilde et al. (1994)
  2. ^ **Wilde, William H.; Hooton, Joy; and Andrews, Barry The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature Oxford University Press, Melbourne 2nd ed. ISBN 0 19 553381 X
  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. ^ "FAW Patricia Weickhardt Award to an Aboriginal Writer". AustLit. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Guide to the papers of David Foster". UNSW Canberra. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Author profile: Bruce Pascoe". Macquarie Pen Anthology. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  11. ^ Bangsund (2004)
  12. ^ Fellowship of Australian Writers, 2004, FAW National Literary Awards 2004 Archived 13 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 16 July 2009
  13. ^ "The Fellowship of Australian Writers Victoria Inc. National Literary Awards". Austlit. Retrieved 17 October 2019.


Further reading[edit]