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Curtin biographer first in WA to win National Biography Award

Media release

C140/08

Curtin University of Technology biographer Professor Graham Seal AM has become the first WA-based author to win the State Library of New South Wales National Biography Award.

Professor Seal was named a joint winner of the $20,000 State Library of New South Wales National Biography Award for 2008 for his convict story These Few Lines: A Convict Story – the lost lives of Myra and William Sykes recently.

Described as a powerful and moving 19th century convict story, Professor Seal’s biography was selected from a shortlist of 33 entries. The other winner was Philip Dwyer for Napoleon, 1769-1799 The Path to Power.

On presenting the Award, NSW State Librarian Regina Sutton said the judges’ selection of two winners rather than one demonstrates the strength of biographical writing in Australia at present.

Professor Seal was honoured to win this prestigious award.

“I am delighted to receive the Award, as it is recognition of the importance of research and writing that reveals the lives of those who are usually history’s nobodies,” Professor Seal said.

“My story is based on a poacher William Sykes who was transported to WA,”he said.

“It tells of William’s life as a convict and the lives of his wife Myra and their family in England as revealed through a few surviving letters and many years of research that I undertook both here in Australia and in England.”

Professor Seal is Director of the Centre for Advanced Studies in Australia, Asia and the Pacific in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin.

His other books have won awards in UK, USA and Australia and in 2007 Professor Seal was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his research.

Modified: 16 May 2008