A Stellar Idea

In November 2011 The Stella Prize was announced, a new annual literary prize for Australian women’s writing. The Stella is our answer to Britain’s women only Orange Prize, and at $50,000 it is even more lucrative. The prize is named after Miles Franklin, or more precisely Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, for so she was christened.

In 2012 we shouldn’t need a prize especially for women. The disgraceful truth though, is that we do. The vast majority of writers shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in recent times have been men. The lady herself would turn in her grave to learn that in 2011, not one woman made the shortlist.




The majority of readers, writers and publishing professionals in Australia are female. How then, are women so under represented in literary awards? Stella knew the answer.That is why she published works under the gender ambiguous name of Miles Franklin. Her contemporary, Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson, chose the pseudonym Henry Handel Richardson for the same reason. George Eliot, George Sand, Louisa May Alcott (aka A.M. Barnard), the Bronte sisters (aka the Bell brothers) … it’s a long list.

Maybe contemporary female authors would have more success if they followed the same strategy. It is a shocking possibility to contemplate on New Year’s Day 2012.

2 thoughts on “A Stellar Idea

  1. Great post, Jennifer. I must confess to signing off as DL Simonelli in the footsteps of JK Rowling and MJ Hyland, both of whom are enjoying considerable success. So far, 100% acceptance of the stories of DL Simonelli. Diane Simonelli may not fare so well!

  2. Maddening, isn’t it! I think you are wise though Diane, particularly as you write literary fiction. For some inexplicable reason it’s a hard sell for a woman. Hope you and your family have a wonderful New Year and I look forward to seeing you in February,

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