Rowley Prize for Best Proposal for First Biography to be Awarded at Compleat Biographer Conference

Hazel Rowley

Hazel Rowley was among the founders of BIO

After years of planning and fundraising, the first Rowley Prize for Best Proposal for a First Biography will be awarded on May 17, 2014, at the Compleat Biographer Conference in Boston.

The prize is intended to provide recognition and funding to a first-time biographer. The winner will receive $2,000, a careful reading from at least one established literary agent, a year’s membership in BIO, and the attendant publicity from being selected for the prize.

The prize is named in memory of Hazel Rowley. Born in London, educated in England and Australia, and a long-time resident of the United States, Rowley was a BIO enthusiast from its inception, understanding the need for biographers to help each other. Before her death at age fifty-nine in 2011, she had authored four distinguished books: Christina Stead: A Biography, a New York Times “Notable Book”; Richard Wright: The Life and Times, a Washington Post “Best Book”; Tȇte-à-Tȇte: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, translated into twelve languages; and Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage, a Fresh Air pick. Hazel was a passionate advocate for the art and craft of biography and a writer of exacting standards, as well as a helpmate to fellow biographers.

“The prize is a perfect way to honor Hazel Rowley,” said James McGrath Morris, BIO president. “It will both celebrate the work she did and give a leg up to a deserving biographer. We are in the debt of the hard-working prize committee and the many BIO members who donated to the fund.”


Details regarding eligibility and entry requirements may be viewed here. The prize is open to citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. and Canada, who are working on a biography in English that has not been commissioned, contracted, or self-published, and who have never published a biography, history, or work of narrative nonfiction. Biography as defined for this prize is a narrative of an individual’s life, although group biographies and innovative ways of treating lives will be considered.

The Rowley Prize Committee is comprised of Gayle Feldman (chair), Carl Rollyson (proposal administrator), Jennifer Cockburn, John A. Farrell, Anne C. Heller, Roy Schreiber, Carol Sklenicka, and Will Swift.