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GSV 2019 Writing Prize

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2020 GSV Writing Prize

We are happy to announce that the writing prize will again be held in 2020. An announcement will be made in March 2020 on the conditions for entry for the prize. Please read these carefully when preparing your entry in 2020. The closing date for entries will be 4.00pm on Friday 28 August 2020. The announcement will be made on this web site and the March issue of Ancestor.


Judges’ report on 2019

GSV writing prize

The judges met on 9 and 16 September, first to choose a short list from the 24 entries, and then to decide the winner and runner-up. The five judges appointed by the GSV committee were: Val Noone, guest judge; Joy Roy, representing the GSV President; and three Ancestor team members, Leonie Loveday, Margaret Vines and Martin Playne. Barbara Beaumont, co-ordinator of the Ancestor editorial team, received entries and provided anonymous copies to the judges, but took no part in the judging process.

The winning entry was 'Masters of the Road' by Louise Wilson. This interesting story about the role of the author’s ancestors in the initiation of the Royal Mail Service coaches in Great Britain in the 1790s was clear, balanced and well researched with appropriate referencing. The introduction was good and the author integrated family history with social and occupational history, giving readers an excellent insight into the operation of this service.

The runner-up was 'Finding Johanna' by Victoria Spicer. This story, which was set mainly in and around Geelong, was built on the author’s change of mind about an Irish bounty emigrant step-great-great-grandmother who she had once scorned for being intermittently jailed for vagrancy and drunkenness. The author, who had a good storyline, backed by appropriate research and referencing, wrote with humour and empathy.

The judges were impressed by the standard of research in all entries and by the diversity of the entries. Stories covered not only settlement in Australia from England, Ireland and Scotland but also took us to a Greek island, Sweden and the USA, and the Rhineland. Most dealt with the past two centuries but a couple reached back into the eighteenth; a handful grappled with the complications of adoption. In all cases, authors showed diligence and care in the treatment of their ancestors. In a number of entries, the handling of complex family relationships could have been improved by greater attention to clarity.  Most of the entries could be published with varying degrees of editing and correcting. Authors could consider reproducing their articles for family and friends, or placing their pieces in local family history magazines. The importance of writing for small audiences should not be underestimated.

The judges thank all the entrants and congratulate them on the quality of their work. Writing genealogy and family history is a noble task and the judges hope that all the authors will continue their endeavours and enter again next year.


From the Ancestor Editorial Team


We thank Dr Val Noone OAM for being willing to act as our Guest Judge and for participating so fully in the assessment process. We also thank Ms Joy Roy FGSV for representing the GSV President in the judging team and for bringing her considerable knowledge of family history and editing to us.

The following authors and articles were also short-listed by the judging panel: Kathleen Baker - 'An ancestor, his village and its demise'

Claire Dunlop - 'A rocky start to life'

Robin Randall - 'A country school-teacher'

Brian Reid - 'Cissie, where are you?'

There were a number of other entries that the judges felt showed considerable merit. The team was very pleased to receive so many entries of quality.