Detail of page of Patrick White notebook, 1957

Patrick White's Literary Notebook containing research for Voss (1957) MS 9982

Applications for the Creative Arts Fellowship for Australian Writing will reopen in April 2018 and close in July 2018. 

The National Library of Australia Creative Arts Fellowship for Australian Writing is supported by the Eva Kollsman and Ray Mathew Trust, a generous bequest made to the Library by Eva Kollsman in honour of her friend, the Australian playwright and poet Ray Mathew, to support and promote Australian writing. The Fellowship is open to established and emerging writers.

The Fellowship offers a grant to support Australian writers, working in any literary genre, to undertake an intensive period of creative development at the Library, using the rich and varied collections as inspiration or to incorporate or transform sources into new creative work.

The aim is to allow writers a period of time to immerse themselves in an aspect of the collections. This may be with the intention of developing ideas, narratives, settings or atmosphere, symbolism or imagery, creating social and historical context, or character development. Applicants will need to articulate their creative concept and artistic goals and demonstrate how they expect ideas derived from relevant collections to translate into their own creative writing. 

The 2019 Creative Arts Fellow in Australian Writing should aim to complete the residency by 30 June 2019, unless otherwise agreed, but is not expected to complete the literary work within this period. However, the Fellow will be expected to give a public presentation on the progress of their creative project within the calendar year.

What does the Creative Arts Fellowship offer?

The Fellow undertakes a minimum four-week residency at the Library. The Fellow may extend the duration of the residency but will not receive further funding.

The Fellow will receive during the residency:

  • $10,000, which can be used as a stipend for travel support and accommodation or for project expenses
  • Special access to collections and staff expertise
  • Access to office facilities and a personal workstation
  • Copies of collection materials (within reasonable limits and according to access conditions)

Fellows become part of the Library’s community of staff, researchers and Friends.

Note: The Library’s Fellowships, Scholarships and Study Grants are awarded to an individual. Any funding to be paid by the Library normally will be paid directly to the individual for the purposes of supporting their research in the collections. Any other arrangements between the individual and their employer are the individual’s responsibility, and are to be negotiated separately between the individual and their employer.

What is a Creative Arts Fellowship project?

Applicants should nominate a writing project that demonstrates their need to use the Library’s rich and varied collections in pursuit of their artistic goal.

The project can be at the conceptual stage, requiring initial research, or could be in progress, with the aim to bring the work towards a next stage of development or completion using collection sources. The project scope may define short or long term goals, but should include how the writer imagines using collection sources, such as to:

  • reimagine or repurpose collection content
  • develop background, character, context, narrative, or language, by researching original sources that underpin or inspire the work
  • arrange, adapt or transform collection content for a literary purpose
  • further develop their literary concept or writing practice

Writing can be in any form, genre or media, such as novel or poem, short story or graphic novel, for the stage, film or other media, and in any genre. On completion, the Fellow should be able to articulate how the use of the collections assisted in the development of the creative work, through commentary, acknowledgement or in the finished writing. 

The Fellowship is not intended to support non-fictional research or literary criticism about Australian writing, which is alternatively supported through the National Library of Australia Fellowship for Research in Australian Literature

Given the short period of the residency, it is essential for applicants to have undertaken some preliminary investigation of relevant collections and specify these in their project plan. Some writers may not be able to nominate particular collections of especial interest; however, it is essential for applicants to specify how they intend to use collections creatively to further develop their work, with clear reference to the relevance of the collections. Staff can assist with preliminary collection inquiries online through the Library’s Ask a Librarian service. 

What are the Fellowship requirements?

The Fellow will be required to:

  • Give a public presentation that highlights the work undertaken during the Fellowship and the work-in-progress
  • Acknowledge the support of the National Library and the Eva Kollsman and Ray Mathew Trust in any creative writing and public forums that result from the Fellowship
  • Deposit in the Library the results of the residency, whether published or unpublished, with open access conditions for future research use
  • Assist the Library to promote the Fellowship through media and public communications

Who is eligible and what are the criteria for selection?

The Fellowship is designed to assist Australian writers who write for any medium where their creative writing is subject to public and peer critique and recognition.

  • Applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents
  • Applicants must be practising writers and can be at any stage of their career. This does not necessarily mean engaged in full-time work as writers, since many writers hold other positions in order to sustain or inform their creative practice.  However, applicants must be able to provide evidence of their practice and achievement.
  • Applicants may be working as academics, but are eligible only if the application is clearly for a creative project.
  • Applicants may be working on a PhD or Masters project. The applicant should indicate if and how the Library project extends or complements aspects of their PhD or Masters project, but the Fellowship project should not directly form part of any official assessment.
  • Fellowships are only awarded to individual writers. Where an applicant is working on a project that is inherently collaborative, such as theatre or film, the applicant must be able to define their particular writing project at the Library and will be assessed on the merits of their own artistic record and practice.
  • Previous recipients of any National Library Fellowship are not eligible to apply.

In the application, applicants must demonstrate:

  • the quality of their writing, as evidenced through a portfolio of previous work
  • an effective literary concept and a project plan that demonstrates the creative goals and purpose of using Library collections in developing their writing
  • capability to work with the National Library’s collections, including using reference and research resources
  • preliminary knowledge of relevant collections or sources to be explored for the project and how they intend to use collections creatively to further develop their work
  • capacity to communicate about their writing to a general audience

Applicants should indicate if they have a publication or production contract or agreement for their creative project, or other means of support.

Applicants must nominate two independent referees, with their current contact details. It is the applicant’s responsibility to send a copy of the application to their referees. Referees will only be contacted by the Library when the Committee has determined a short-list. The Fellow will be selected and decisions announced by November 2018.


Fellows retain copyright in their literary work created during the course of the Fellowship, but are required to clear copyright in collection materials if applicable and acknowledge source materials appropriately.

If planning to re-purpose collection material, applicants are advised to show in the application that the copyright owner consents to this re-use, or that advice from a recognised organisation (such as the Arts Law Centre) indicates use would be covered by a copyright exception.

How do I apply?

Applications for the 2019 Creative Arts Fellowships open in April  2018 and close 28 July 2018.

The minimum four-week residency for the 2018 Creative Arts Fellowship for Australian Writing should be completed by 30 June 2019, unless otherwise agreed, but the Fellow is not expected to complete the artwork within this period. The Fellow will be expected to give a public presentation on the progress or completion of their project within the calendar year..  Applicants should nominate their preferred dates in the application. These dates are indicative, not binding, so the Library can effectively manage Fellows’ access to space and resources.

Applications can only be submitted online. Instructions are provided during the online application process. You can preview the form once you have registered. 

You can save and edit the application. However no amendments are possible after you have submitted it. Please ensure that you write your proposal succinctly and clearly.

For the application, you will need the following:

  • a 2-4 page CV that outlines your professional career
  • documentation that provides evidence of your writing, up to 15 pages.  For text or images, please provide in a single, multi-page PDF. For digital and or online material, please create a page with an introductory image and web links and/or titles of files. Upload file size is limited to 25MB, so contact for assistance for larger files.
  • the details of two independent referees. Ensure referees have a copy of your application, which you can download or print from the online system.

Applications for the 2019 Creative Fellowships open in April 2018 and close 28 July 2018 (midnight, Eastern Standard Time)