The 2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize

The ARA Historical Novel Prize is now the richest genre-based literary award in Australasia. The 2021 Prize will now incorporate a category for outstanding Children and Young Adult (CYA) literature, in addition to the Adult category. As such, in just its second year of operation, the ARA Historical Novel Prize is now worth a total of $100,000 in prize monies.

The Prize will award $50,000 to the Adult category winner, with an additional $5,000 to be awarded to each of the remaining two shortlisted authors. In the CYA category, the winner will receive $30,000, while the two short listers will receive $5,000 each.

The ARA Historical Novel Prize has been made possible through the generous patronage of ARA Group—Australia’s leading essential building and infrastructure services provider. The ARA Group, and its Founder, Executive Chair and Managing Director 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, as a Principal Partner of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, as a Principal Partner of the Monkey Baa Theatre, and as a sponsor of the Historical Novel Society Australia’s biennial conferences – and now as the sponsor of this very significant literary prize.

About the Prize

The definition of the genre set for the prize will ensure a breadth of talented writers is eligible to enter. Historical fiction will be defined as a novel in which the majority of the narrative must have taken place at least 50 years before publication.

A range of sub-genres are eligible, including historical mystery, historical romance, alternate history, historical fantasy, multi-time, time-slip, and parallel narrative novels.

The judging criteria include depth of research, widespread reader appeal, with excellence in writing as the deciding factor. 

The ARA Historical Novel Prize is open to all authors who are citizens or residents of Australia or New Zealand. Authors, publishers, or agents may submit books in print or digital editions. Works must be published between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021 to be eligible. The history explored can be from any era or society across the world.

The submission process will be administered by the HNSA’s partner, the New England Writers’ Centre.

For further information, email

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.

The Judges

The judging panels consist of:

  • Adult Novels: Nicole Alexander (Chair), Carmel Bird and Roanna Gonsalves
  • CYA Novels: Paul McDonald (Chair), Thuy On and Catherine Mayo

For further information about each of the judges, visit: Judging Panels for the 2021 ARA Historical Novel Prize

Our Winners, Shortlists, and Longlists



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. Our next conference will be held virtually on 22-24 October 2021.

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.  


NEWC logo

NEWC is a dynamic regional literary organisation which has been operating for 25 years in the beautiful, vast New England region of northern New South Wales.

The organisation runs workshops in all aspects of writing and publishing, hosts visiting authors, offers professional development and pitching opportunities for aspiring regional writers and illustrators, and showcases local book industry professionals, including writers, illustrators, editors and publishers.

NEWC also runs two prestigious national awards, the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, and the New England Illustration Prize, as well as the Varuna-New England Writers’ Centre Fellowship, run in partnership with Varuna the National Writers’ House. You can find out more about NEWC via their website.

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