AustLit logo
Barbara Jefferis Award
Subcategory of Awards Australian Awards
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


The Barbara Jefferis Award is offered annually for 'the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society'.

Established in 2008, the Award is paid from the Barbara Jefferis Literary Fund, established by a bequest from Barbara’s husband, film critic John Hinde. Barbara Jefferis was a novelist, a founding member of the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), and the ASA's first woman president. The award is administered by the ASA.

Source: Sighted: 15/11/2013


2016 winner y separately published work icon Hope Farm Peggy Frew , Melbourne : Scribe , 2015 8681326 2015 single work novel

'From the award-winning author of House of Sticks comes a magnificent story of love, tragedy, and forgiveness lost.

'It is the winter of 1985, and 13-year-old Silver Landes is about to be pushed towards a decision that could split her world apart. Her mother, Ishtar, has fallen for the charismatic but unnerving Miller, and the three of them have moved from Brisbane to Hope Farm, a run-down hippie commune in rural Gippsland.

'Among the bedraggled residents of Hope, young Silver finds unexpected friendship and love. Has she found a home at last? Or will Ishtar's secrets force Silver into becoming an adult before she is ready, with devastating consequences?

'Hope Farm is a beautifully wrought, tender tale of what happens when love brings about unforeseen and unimaginable acts of sacrifice, and the enduring damage that can result from holding back the truth.' (Publication summary)

2014 joint winner y separately published work icon The Night Guest Fiona McFarlane , Melbourne : Penguin , 2013 6012414 2013 single work novel (taught in 2 units)

'The debut of a major Australian writer, The Night Guest is a mesmerising novel about trust, love, dependence, and the fear that the things you think you know may become the things you're least sure about.

One morning an elderly widow called Ruth wakes thinking a tiger has been in her seaside house. Later that day a formidable woman called Frida arrives, looking as if she's blown in from the sea, but who has in fact come to care for Ruth.

Frida and the tiger: both are here to stay, and neither is what they seem. How far can Ruth trust them? And as memories of childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency, how far can she trust herself?

The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane's hypnotic first novel, is no simple tale of a crime committed and a mystery solved. This is a tale that soars above its own suspense to tell us, with exceptional grace and beauty, about ageing, love, power and perception; about how the past can colonise the present, and about things (and people) in places they shouldn't be. Above all, it's a brilliantly involving story about two very particular women.' (Publisher's blurb)

With Sea Hearts.
2014 joint winner y separately published work icon Sea Hearts Margo Lanagan , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2012 Z1836289 2012 single work novel fantasy young adult (taught in 4 units)

'On remote Rollrock Island, the sea-witch Misskaella discovers she can draw a girl from the heart of a seal. So, for a price, any man might buy himself a bride; an irresistibly enchanting sea-wife. But what cost will be borne by the people of Rollrock - the men, the women, the children - once Misskaella sets her heart on doing such a thing?'

—Publisher's website

With The Night Guest.
2012 winner y separately published work icon All That I Am Anna Funder , Camberwell : Hamish Hamilton , 2011 Z1731728 2011 single work novel historical fiction

'Anna Funder's utterly compelling first novel All That I Am is about the heroic and largely tragic fate of a small group of left-wing German activists who opposed the rise of Hitler. It centres on two real people: the playwright Ernst Toller (famously eulogized by his friend W H Auden), and one of his associates, Ruth Koplowitz. Ruth was also a friend of Toller, and came to live in Sydney after WW2, where Anna got to know her well in later life. Their lives were tied together by the charismatic, passionate Dora - All That I Am vividly, passionately and irresistibly brings back to life their struggles, their hopes, their fears and their fates.'

Source: Penguin News, 6 October 2010
Sighted: 11/10/2010

2011 winner y separately published work icon Come Inside Glenys Osborne , Thornbury : Clouds of Magellan , 2010 Z1669242 2010 single work novel historical fiction

'A ship is wrecked in 1887 near the small country town of Colego. The sea throws up one troubled survivor who claims to know only her name.

'Glenys Osborne's compelling first novel traces the impact of the loss of the Lucy on the town of Colego and how the tidal pull of this event shapes and disturbs those who come after.' (From the publisher's website.)

2010 winner y separately published work icon The China Garden Kris Olsson , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 2009 Z1559414 2009 single work novel

'The China Garden follows three protagonists over a 2-week period that culminates in a shocking event that affects them all. Fifty-year-old Laura has come home from Italy to bury her mother Angela and get her affairs in order. However, she has an unexpected surprise waiting for her. Until Angela's death, Laura had believed she was an only child, but the will has made allowance for a brother she had never known, adopted out at birth. In another part of town, 70-year-old Cress is grieving the loss, not only of Angela, but of her own faith. She consoles herself with irregular thefts from the op shop where she volunteers: an old wedding dress, a silver fork, small pictures of the Virgin Mary. Somewhere among these things, she knows, she will relocate faith, she will fend off fear. Kieran, the watcher, sees them both. Kieran is a gatherer of information, a 30-year-old quiz show addict who failed junior school but is good at other kinds of knowing; who knits his world together with cunningly garnered facts and lovingly stored information. As the tragic event looms, it pierces and links the lives of the three characters. The China Garden explores identity in mid-century and mid-life; examining the effects of social policies in a country struggling to re-establish a facade of goodness and morality after a major world war. It shows how the events of mid-life, the death of parents, the confrontation with lost faith or the fruits of youthful mistakes might unravel the various versions of ourselves that we construct in order to survive.' Source: Provided by publisher.

2009 winner y separately published work icon The Spare Room Helen Garner , Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2008 Z1457068 2008 single work novel (taught in 10 units) 'Helen lives in Melbourne, and her friend Nicola flies down from Sydney for a three-week visit. She will sleep in Helen's house, in her lovingly prepared spare room. This is no ordinary visit. Nicola has advanced cancer and is seeking alternative treatment from a clinic in Helen's city. From the moment Nicola steps off the plane, gaunt, staggering like a crone, her voice hoarse but still with something grand about her, Helen becomes her nurse, her protector, her guardian angel and her stony judge.' (Publisher's blurb)
2008 inaugural winner y separately published work icon Feather Man Rhyll McMaster , Blackheath : Brandl and Schlesinger , 2007 Z1378828 2007 single work novel 'Set in Brisbane during the stultifying 1950s, and moving to the grubby London of the 1970s, Feather Man is about Sooky, who, ignored by her parents, is encouraged to make herself scarce and visit Lionel, their elderly next dour neighbour. McMaster brings Brisbane to life, depicting a home full of powerful emblems, The Thor washing machine thunders away. A kookaburra is perched on the oven door. Following Sooky from her neglected childhood to womanhood and her entry into the an world, the book combines comedy with emotional intensity. When Sooky's attraction to Redmond leads her to London, her past follows her into the future in a deadly confrontation' (Book jacket, American edition).