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Hachette Australia, together with the Richell family, established The Richell Prize for Emerging Writers in partnership with The Guardian Australia and The Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF). The Prize was launched in 2015 in memory of Hachette Australia’s CEO, Matt Richell, who died suddenly in July 2014.

‘I’m so proud of the Richell Prize, the legacy it’s created in my late husband’s name, and all that it’s achieved in the nine years since its launch. Taking the first steps as an emerging writer can be a confusing and daunting process. The Richell Prize has been designed to help guide new talent towards publication, with financial and mentoring support. Unlike some prizes, we don’t ask for a completed manuscript. We simply ask for the first three chapters, a clear vision and your commitment to finishing your project. The talent we’ve already unearthed has dazzled and excited us, and we can’t wait to make a new discovery this year. If you’re thinking of entering, please take the leap. We’re ready to help you take flight.’ – Hannah Richell, bestselling author of SECRETS OF THE TIDES and THE RIVER HOME.

The Prize is open to unpublished writers of adult fiction and adult narrative non-fiction. Writers do not need to have a full manuscript at the time of submission, though they must intend to complete one.

The winner receives $10,000 in prize money, donated by Hachette Australia, and a year’s mentoring with one of Hachette Australia’s publishers. The Emerging Writers’ Festival’s involvement in this Prize is sponsored by Simpsons Solicitors.

Our 2023 Winner 

Special mention for this year goes to Luisa Mitchell for Blood Gum Weeping, which was awarded a Highly Commended by the judges.

The 2023 Winner 

Rat Daniels by Alex Sawyer. 

Watch the winner's announcement here.

See the 2023 shortlist.

The 2022 Winner 

When Trees Fall Without Warning by Susannah Begbie. 

Watch the winner's announcement here.

See the 2022 shortlist.

The 2021 Winner

Tell Her She's Dreamin' by Simone Jordan

Watch the winner's announcement here.

See the 2021 shortlist.

See the 2021 longlist.

The 2020 Winner

After the Rain by Aisling Smith

Watch the winner's announcement here.


The 2019 Winner

Else Fitzgerald

See the 2019 shortlist.

The 2018 Winner

I Shot the Devil by Ruth McIver

See the 2018 shortlist.

The 2017 Winner

State Highway One by Sam Coley

See the 2017 shortlist.

See the 2017 longlist.

The 2016 Winner

Susie Greenhill

The 2015 Winner

Closing Down by Sally Abbott

Read the winner's speech here.

How is it judged, and by whom?

The Richell Prize is judged on the strength of the writing in the first three chapters of the work, a synopsis, a chapter breakdown of the rest of the book, and a statement about how winning the Prize will further your writing career. The prize is judged by a panel of industry experts including a Hachette Australia publisher, bestselling author Hannah Richell, and two booksellers.

The applications will be judged on three main criteria:

  • The writing – make sure that you are telling an original story that you have a burning desire to share
  • The synopsis – give us a brief summary of the plot, major characters, themes and settings in the book and a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the rest of the book
  • Why you want it – tell us how winning the Prize will help you further your writing career 

Published authors of The Richell Prize

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