Dorothy Hewett and the Dorothy Hewett Award

UWA Publishing created the Dorothy Hewett Award for an unpublished manuscript in the face of severe cuts to the standing of Western Australian writers when the government put on hold in 2015 the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards. We selected Dorothy Hewett as an outstanding writer who was born in this place and spent decades here as a writer, a university teacher, and a mentor to many. We stand by our decision to select a distinguished and internationally recognised writer of plays, fiction and poetry for an award about to be offered for the fourth time. It has attracted a good deal of prestige already with writers and readers.


The stories told recently by Dorothy Hewett’s two daughters, both of them also authors with UWA Publishing, are shocking and challenge ideas about the duty of parents and other responsible adults to protect children from harm. We express solidarity and love to these adult women for the courage of telling their painful stories in public. But we do not see this as a trigger to change the name of our Award. To conflate these two issues is to misunderstand why we selected Dorothy Hewett in the first place, to honour her profile and achievements as a writer with a strong connection to place and landscape in this part of Australia. As well, she was a writer with a rebellious nature who animated characters and figures from the past and her present on stage and on the page in her extensive output. We honour her work in the history of Australian literature and artistic expression and remain firm in this commitment. If the family were to instruct us to change our position we would do so, but this is not the intention of Dorothy’s daughters to the ongoing legacy of her writing.


Terri-ann White

Director, UWA Publishing

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