The atmosphere was electric as people gathered at the Uniting Church Hall in Corryong to hear who was to take home the titles of this year’s Elyne Mitchell Writing Award. People filed in from all over Australia and were treated to delicious fare provided by the Uniting Church ladies. The crowd mingled and enjoyed a trip down memory lane as they viewed the panels displaying the life and times of Elyne, on loan for the night from Corryong Historical Society.
Special guest speaker for the night Sandy Mackinnon enthusiastically regaled stories of his travels, punctuated with roars of laughter from the audience. Sandy is the critically acclaimed author of The Unlikely Adventures of Jack de Crow, and every last one of his books were snapped up eagerly by the adoring crowd.
Elyne Mitchell was brought back to life as Literary Agent Tim Curnow created a vivid and cherished image of her, sharing with us his own experiences and impression of the woman whose books lived in so many hearts all across the world. Tim talked of her special gait, created by those skiers’ legs and of her wonderful and unique laugh, inherited by daughter Honor.
Before winners were announced the audience were introduced to patron Honor Auchinleck, Katie Stackhouse from HarperCollins and also Mary Fraser, Mayor of Towong Shire. Shortlisters were presented with a book prize donated by HarperCollins.
The winner of the Local Category was Diane Fagan from Tooma NSW with her story Regrets. Diane, busy biking around Burma, wasn’t present to collect her Award. Diane is a regular shortlister and has won the award twice before. We look forward to next year’s entry.
In the Open Category, Isabella McNickle from Bywong, NSW won with her story The Funeral. Isabelle’s surprise and sheer delight was undeniable as she gave her acceptance speech. Isabelle, who brought her family along for the night, said it was exceptional to be acknowledged by her peers.
HarperCollins Memoir Category winner, Shirley Chalmers from Korumburra, Vic, won with her story The Onion Picker’s Daughter. Shirley, originally from Queensland is a published author whose winning short story is a chapter from her memoir Broken Buttons.
2013 Short-Listed Entries – in alphabetical order by Author’s surname
HARPERCOLLINS RURAL MEMOIR CATEGORY
Charlotte Austin, Margaret
Shirley Chalmers, The Onion Picker’s Daughter
Jim Kent, The Iceman Came Once a Week
Alana Brekelman, Like Dust in Your Mother’s Hair
Kerri Harris, Cubby Struther’s Transformation
Iris Leach, The Reprobate Hero
Isabella McNickle, The Funeral
Jennifer Morris, Red Geraniums
Jackie Tritt, Strange Harvest
Deb Wain, Muster
Jessica White, A Mercurial Man
Rachel Williamson, The Black Dog
Susan Yardley, Rabbits
Dixie Coutts, Chocolate Biscuits and a Mad Red Horse
Diane Fagan, Regrets
Marilyn Hill, Childhood Memories
Janis Lewis, Farm Windows
Janis Lewis, Partnered or Not – I’m Dancing!
Alice McInnes, A Granite Block
Chris Stuart, The Farmer Wants a Wife
The organisers would like to thank all the people that made this event a huge success. Special thanks goes to all our judges who volunteered many hours to review the record amount of stories this year. Thanks to Friends of Corryong Library, The Uniting Church and all their helpers, to HarperCollins, Photographer-Nicole Vlug, Office Works Wodonga, The Corryong Courier, Tumba Times, Tallangatta Herald and Walwa World.
To order the shortlisted and winning stories please contact Sue Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0260 771232. Cost of booklets is $10.
The Elyne Mitchell Rural Writing Award commemorates internationally renowned Silver Brumby author Elyne’s life and work, and hopes to encourage women all over Australia to write their stories and send them in.
Elyne’s love of wildlife, and in particular the Azure Kingfisher, is represented in the logo for this award, designed by Giselle Dosen for Friends of Corryong Library.
The Elyne Mitchell Writing Award not only commemorates Elyne’s life and work, but it has also been established to encourage people living in a rural setting to write their stories, fact or fiction.
Elyne was born in 1913 in Melbourne. In 1935, she married Tom Mitchell, a barrister and later parliamentarian, and lived at Towong Hill, 10km from Corryong. Elyne was a keen sportswoman. She enjoyed skiing, perhaps most of all. Although she is remembered particularly for the Silver Brumby series of children’s books, she wrote other novels and non-fiction relating to the Snowy Mountains and family and military history.
Although interested in all facets of nature and particularly the Upper Murray region, Elyne had a soft spot for the Azure Kingfisher. She would often float in the lagoon, hoping that the kingfishers might forget she was there and she would catch a glimpse.
Elyne received a number of awards including:
- an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Charles Sturt University (1993);
- Order of Australia Medal for services to literature (1990);
- Children’s Book Council awards (1959-1968).
In 2001 the Corryong Branch of the Upper Murray Regional Library was renamed The Elyne Mitchell Public Library and a permanent display of her work can be viewed there.