Australian Writers’ Guild congratulates Leah Purcell and Shelley Birse on NSW Premier’s Literary Award wins

23 May, 2017

The Australian Writers’ Guild would like to congratulate AWG members Leah Purcell and Shelley Birse who last night were awarded top prizes at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Leah Purcell was awarded the $30,000 Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting as well as the $10,000 prize for Book of the Year – the first time a play has received the top prize – for her acclaimed work The Drover’s Wife.

Shelley Birse was awarded the $30,000 Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting for her gripping political thriller The Code (series 2, episode 4), sharing the award with Abe Forsythe for his film Down Under.

Described by judges as ‘brave, ruthless and utterly compelling’, Purcell’s reimagining of Henry Lawson’s short story The Drover’s Wife was recently awarded the $100,000 Victorian prize for literature, the richest literary award in Australia, and will soon tour nationally. Meanwhile, The Code has continued its impressive run with the second season winning last year’s top writing award at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s 49th Annual AWGIE Awards as well as the prize for best original miniseries. Shelley Birse previously won both the AWGIE Award in the miniseries category and the Major Award for the first season of The Code in 2014.

The Guild would also like to congratulate our members who made the shortlist of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, including Angela Betzien, Finegan Kruckemeyer and Alana Valentine for the Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting and Michael Miller, Victoria Madden, Lawrence Leung and Ben Chessell for the Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting.

Established in 1979, the NSW Premier’s literary awards recognise and reward the achievements of Australian writers, including novelists, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, translators and authors of non-fiction and children’s books. Prizes are awarded across multiple categories, with winners in each category becoming eligible for the major award of Book of the Year. 

For the full list of winners at this year’s NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, go here.

© Australian Writers' Guild 2021. All Rights Reserved.
ACN: 002 563 500

Privacy Policy

Level 4, 70 Pitt St, Sydney, NSW 2000
t: 02 9319 0339
f: 02 9223 8933

Red Tally Studios


The Australian Writers’ Guild acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future traditional custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.