2019 Ernest Scott Prize shortlist announced

The 2019 Ernest Scott Prize for History is awarded annually to the book judged to be the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand or to the history of colonisation published in the previous year. This prize is proudly supported by the History Program in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne.


The 2019 judges are:

The winner will be announced following the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Lecture on Wednesday 3 April 2019.

2019 shortlist

Roger Blackley, Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, Collectors and the Maori World 1880-1910 (Auckland University Press)

Steeped in the knowledge of artistic practice feeding a domestic and imperial market, Blackley's work provides a powerful insight into a disturbing world. While artists and subjects often collaborated, collectors and exhibitors often did the opposite. Blackley's analysis is clear eyed and unromantic; a magnificent account of the era that set the foundation for the major galleries and museums of the modern era. More information.

Judith Brett, The Enigmatic Mr Deakin (Text Publishing)

In an age when respect for politicians has been shredded by the politicians themselves this is a compelling book. Deakin is such an unlikely head of state. Kind, learned, erudite, humorous at times and loving, his vision is the thing which carried him through the scrum of political life. Reading his views on Indigenous Australia show the cruel limitation of that vision but Brett is such a compassionate witness and her prose so beautifully composed that the unfurling ribbon of the story draws the reader into the heart of the drama and an Australian political and social era. More information.

Billy Griffiths, Deep Time Dreaming (Black Inc Books)

Australian archaeologists have been relatively slow to focus on home soil but Griffiths argues for the urgency of a policy review. The 'slow shift in national consciousness' has been provoked by the continuing assertion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity and the new phenomena of an Australian interest in the subject. Beautifully and evocatively written it encourages the general reader to embrace their country anew. More information.

Samia Khatun, Australianama, The South Asian Odyssey in Australia (Hurst Publishers)

Highly original, Khatun offers a new basis for storytelling, knowledge and history. Bringing together South Asian and 'Australian' histories in what she terms the 'knowledge relation' Australianama shines a brilliant light on desert, mosque, Aboriginal, South Asian and British peoples. What emerges is a beautifully crafted new stage for historical understanding, fresh actors and a wholly new language of vision. More information.

Rebe Taylor, Into the Heart of Tasmania (Melbourne University Publishing)

Taylor stirred the possum of national conscience with her earlier book, Unearthed, which examined the Australian reluctance to accept anything but a 'settler' history. She writes beautifully and is a great storyteller, something rare in the territory of academic writing. This is a book for everyone, a gentle and lyrical reminder to resurrect curiosity and, maybe, empathy and justice. The book begins with the destruction of a cultural site to build an arguably unnecessary freeway at Launceston. The story then follows the work of two men, Plomley and Westlake, rare Tasmanians who showed an interest in the history of the island prior to the British invasion. The fascinating part of Taylor's book is how the author reveals that even these rare humanists were blinded by their assumed superiority over the subjects they studied. It is a flaw fundamental to Australian scholarship and Taylor’s revelation is a sobering reminder of how the victor writes history. More information.