The Davitt Awards

Sisters in Crime Australia launched the Davitt Awards for best crime books by Australian women at its 10th anniversary convention, SheKilda 2001 to provide some much needed – and overdue – recognition for Australian women crime writers.

At that stage, women barely got a look in with the Ned Kelly Awards for crime writing. While women now occasionally win a Neddy, they are still unrepresented generally when it comes to awards, reviews and opportunities.

Since 2001 the Davitts have played a pivotal role in getting women’s crime writing published and better recognised. Back in 2001 only 7 books were in contention, although the awards did not then apply to non-fiction. In 2019, by contrast, 127 books were in the running.

Six Davitt Awards are presented annually: Best Adult Crime Novel; Best Young Adult Crime Novel; Best Children’s Crime Novel; Best Non-fiction Book; Best Debut Book (any category); and Readers’ Choice (as voted by the 600 members of Sisters in Crime Australia).

The awards are handsome carved polished wooded trophies featuring the front cover of the winning novel under perspex. No prize money is attached.

The Davitts, named after Ellen Davitt, the author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865, cost publishers nothing to enter. An e-book of Force and Fraud was published by Clan Destine Press in 2015 to mark its 150th anniversary.

Sisters Crime member, Jessie Byrne, has written a 20,000 word exegesis about the Davitt Awards as part of her Creative Writing PhD at the University of Adelaide: Just Deserts: Reading, Writing and Rewarding Australian Women’s Crime Fiction (2019). To read, click here: Jessie Byrne JUST DESERTS – Exegesis 2019