ARA Historical Novel PrizE

A new literary prize for Historical Fiction

With prize money of $100,000, the ARA Historical Novel Prize gives Australian and New Zealand historical novelists the chance to be recognised in a class of their own, with the most significant prize purse for any genre-based prize in Australasia. The 2021 Prize incorporated a newly created category for outstanding Children and Young Adult (CYA) historical fiction, in addition to the Adult category.    

The ARA Historical Novel Prize now awards $50,000 to the Adult category winner, with an additional $5,000 awarded to each of the remaining two shortlisted authors. In the CYA category, the winner received $30,000, while the two short listers received $5,000 each.

The ARA Historical Novel Prize has been made possible by the generosity of our Foundation Partner, ARA Group. The ARA Historical Novel Prize has been made possible through the generous patronage of ARA Group. The ARA Group, and its Founder, Executive Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Edward Federman, are committed to supporting the arts and literature. They do this in a number of ways – as a Principal Partner of the Sydney Writers’ Festival and the Melbourne Writers Festival, as a Principal Partner of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, as a Principal Partner of the Monkey Baa Theatre, as a Key Partner of the Story Factory and as a sponsor of the Historical Novel Society Australia’s biennial conferences – and now as the sponsor of this very significant literary prize.’

Key Dates for 2023

  • Early Bird Entries Open: 12 April 
  • Early Bird Entries Close: 9 May
  • General Entries Open: 10 May
  • Entries Close: 14 June at 5pm
  • Longlists Announced: 13 September
  • Shortlists Announced: 27 September
  • Winners Announced: 19 October

Further details will be made available as soon as possible. Join our mailing list to stay up to date.

Definition of Historical Fiction

The ARA Historical Novel Prize (the Prize) is only for published historical novels, that is, novels written in the Historical Fiction genre based on the following definition:

  1. The definition of the genre set by the Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) is a novel in which the majority of the narrative, ie more than 50% of the events described, must have taken place at least 50 years before publication.
  2. Historical sub-genres considered to be historical fiction include historical mystery, historical romance, and historical fantasy and alternate history. Time-slip novels, multiple-time period novels, and parallel narrative novels are also considered historical fiction with flexibility to crossover between eras stretching from 50 years or more in the past until contemporary times provided more than 50% of the events described take place at least 50 years before publication.

Definition of Children and Young Adult Historical Fiction

Children and Young Adult historical fiction acceptable for the purposes of the ARA Historical Novel Prize include novels written for age groups stretching from middle primary to end of high school with a minimum word count of 25,000 words. Picture books, graphic novels, narrative non-fiction, and non-fiction are excluded. Novels may include illustrations.

For more information email

About Ara Group

ARA Group provides a comprehensive range of building services and products to major customers throughout Australia and New Zealand and – through its workplace giving program, The ARA Endowment Fund – plays a proud and positive role in the community.

The ARA Endowment Fund currently donates 100 per cent of the interest earned annually to The Go Foundation, The Indigenous Literacy Foundation and The David Lynch Foundation.

ARA Group has also sponsored the Historical Novel Society Australasia’s biennial conferences since 2017, is Principal Partner of Sydney Writers Festival, the Monkey Baa Theatre,  the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and Presidential Partner of Taronga Zoo.

About the Historical Novel Society Australasia

The Historical Novel Society Australasia is the third arm of the international Historical Novel Society, and is recognised as the home of the historical fiction genre in Australasia. The Society promotes the writing, reading and publication of historical fiction, especially in Australia and New Zealand, through its biennial conferences held since 2015. Our events showcase the best literary talent and enable readers, writers and publishing professionals to celebrate the genre. 

The inauguration of the ARA Historical Novel Prize is the crown jewel in HNSA’s suite of literary contests.  HNSA also runs the ARA HNSA Short Story Contest, the TCW HNSA First Pages Pitch Contest, the Colleen McCullough Residency held on Norfolk Island and the Elizabeth Jane Corbett Mentorship for Young Adult historical novelists.  

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