The Nance Donkin Award
About the Nance Donkin Award
by Rebecca Maxwell
The Nance Donkin Award, a biennial award for a woman author in Australia who writes for children. Nance’s intention in offering this award was to encourage and make known a good writer for children deserving more recognition. The Society of Women Writers Victoria asks SWW groups in other states for their nominations and forwards the list to a literary judge. In 2015 the judge was Dr Pam McIntyre. Her speech, and the speech of the winner, Roseanne Hawke, can be found in the September 2015 issue of WriteAway.
SWWV offers the Nance Donkin Award biennially to perpetuate the memory of a benefactor to our branch, who was a dynamic and longtime member. Nance had expressed her wish that we validate authors of books for children.
by Errol Broome, SWWV Literary Patron and friend of Nance Donkin
Nance Donkin was a pioneer and leading light in the world of Australian literature for children. She played a prominent role, too, in many other fields of learning. Nance began her writing career at the age of sixteen as the Maitland Daily Mercury’s first female journalist. She continued in journalism on the Newcastle Herald and later, having married and settled in Melbourne, on ABC radio and television.
As president of the Victorian branch of the Children’s Book Council from 1967 – 1975, Nance initiated a period of development, pushing for travel grants to enable authors to visit country schools.
In 1986, Nance was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the community in the fields of children’s literature and adult education. Her series of CAE lectures on women in Australian history resulted in two books highlighting the roles of women. In 1990, she was awarded the Society’s Alice.
Nance was a reader who held strong feminist and political views, and opened her mind to all current issues. She also have a sharp spontaneous sense of humour. She is remembered by the Society of Women Writers Victoria for her long-time support as member and benefactor. The biennial Nance Donkin Award, a fitting memorial to Nance’s contribution to the children of Australia, was in planning before the time of her death in April 2008, was first presented in 2009, and, with the support of her family, will continue to validate the importance of writing for children, as Nance had wished.