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May 15, 2024

2024 ASA/HQ Fiction Prize winner announced

The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and HQ, a publishing division of HarperCollins, are delighted to announce that Kathleen Hastings has won the 2024 ASA/HQ Fiction Prize for unpublished manuscripts with her book Hendrickje, Rembrandt’s Bathsheba.

Hendrickje, Rembrandt’s Bathsheba is the vividly told story of Hendrickje Stoffels, a in the household of the artist Rembrandt van Rijn who becomes his model, his employer and his common-law wife.

A retired teacher and deputy principal, Kathleen Hastings has a background in art, languages and education. She has a Master’s degree in Fine Art and studied at the Sorbonne and University of Paris. 

Kathleen Hastings said, ‘I’ve been involved with Hendrickje since my encounter with breast cancer in 1990 when Rembrandt’s image of her as Bathsheba bathing was used by the Cancer Council of Australia to encourage women to self-examine for breast cancer – using her image for my painting and, obviously, this story. I am sure that she was the woman behind Rembrandt’s success. I am so amazed and appreciative that ASA and HQ have given me the opportunity to share her story with others.’

Kathleen will receive a publishing contract with HQ and a $10,000 advance against royalties. 

HQ Publisher Rachael Donovan said, ‘It’s a thrill to find a manuscript with such potential. This is an insightful and evocative story for anyone interested in painting, European history or the retelling of history through the eyes of women. Kathleen’s historical research is impeccable and her writing paints a captivating portrait of women’s lives in 17th-century Republic of Holland, as well as bringing to life Rembrandt’s conflicting ambition and foibles.’   

ASA CEO Olivia Lanchester said, Our warm congratulations to Kathleen Hastings whose striking novel Hendrickje, Rembrandt’s Bathsheba is a testament to the extraordinary historical fiction writing we have in Australia. We’d also like to congratulate runner-up Shashini Gamage – we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to support Shashini in the next steps towards publication.

The runner-up is The Fright of Real Feathers by Shashini Gamage, an exquisite and resonant story of a woman returning to Sri Lanka to care for ageing parents and discovering the truths of her life through these loving yet complex relationships. Shashini will receive $500 and a year’s membership of the ASA.

The competition received 165 entries, showcasing a wide array of uniquely Australian and New Zealand voices. The top five manuscripts were then shortlisted by HQ publishers and included Second Skin by Arianne James, The Shores Between by A’Mhara McKey and Parallel by Esme Wilmot.

The ASA/HQ Fiction Prize is run every two years and open to all Australian and New Zealand fiction writers. The next competition will open in late 2025.


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All media queries please contact Lucy Hayward, ASA Marketing and Communications Manager: [email protected] / 02 9211 1004