The winners of the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards have been announced, with the top award, the Victorian Prize for Literature, going to playwright Leah Purcell for her play The Drover’s Wife. Purcell, who is an Indigenous Australian, was also the winner in the drama category for the same work.
The Victorian Prize for Literature is a $100,000 prize, making it the single richest literary accolade in Australia. As the winner for the drama category, Purcell also receives a $25,000 prize.
Purcell is an internationally acclaimed director, writer, and actor. Her play The Drover's Wife is a contemporary interpretation of Henry Lawson‘s 1892 story about an Australian woman left alone with her four children in the outback. Rather than confront a snake in her yard, the woman in Purcell‘s play discovers a black man on her property. “I just wanted to write a good story, but with the Black Lives Matter movement it’s so relevant it’s ridiculous,” Purcell told Australian Newspaper The Age. The play premiered in 2016 at the Belvoir St. Theatre in Sydney.
Last year‘s Victorian Prize for Literature was also awarded to a dramatist: playwright Mary Anne Butler for her play Broken.
The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were inaugurated by the Victorian Government in 1985 to honor literary achievement by Australian writers. The awards are administered by the Wheeler Centre on behalf of the Premier of Victoria. For more information visit Wheelercentre.com.