Student Historical Fiction Competition 2020 winners


Stage 4 and Stage 5 students were asked to think imaginatively about people, places and events from the past and create a story inspired by an image from the exhibition A Thousand Words. The exhibition is a new collaboration between Sydney Living Museums and NSW State Archives.

Competition entries were judged by a panel of three writers and historians. The shortlist in each category has been published here on 30 September 2020 and now the winners are announced below.


Winning entries

The winning entries were selected by a panel of judges: Zoe Ghani, Kiera Lindsey and Mark Tedeschi. Congratulations to these students for their works of historical fiction, drawing inspiration from an image in the A Thousand Words exhibition. 

Stage 4

Black and white image of prison-like interior.

1st prize:  Patrick Harb of Oakhill College for his story The Glaring Truth

Black and white photo of people lining empty road.

Runner up: Matilda Stafford for her story Race for Change

Highly Commended: Alicia Wang of Meriden College for her untitled story

Stage 5

Black and white image of person in black robe and hood, wielding a weapon.

1st prize:  Eunice Thi, Meriden College for her untitled story

Black and white image of interior with hammocks.

Runner up: Lily Castledine, Wenona School for her story Eyes of a Statue

Highly Commended: Esther Michail, of Meriden College for her story Commonplace Female

Highly Commended: Estella McFadyen, home-school student for her story Lost in the Snowy

This competition is now closed.

Terms and Conditions

Information on how to enter and prizes form part of these Terms and Conditions. Participation in this competition is deemed acceptance of...


Congratulations to these students whose entries have been shortlisted:

Stage 4 

  • Annie Oliver for The Adventure of a Lifetime 
  • Patrick Harb for The Glaring Truth 
  • Matilda Stafford for Race for Change 
  • Kaitlyn Rutledge for The Sundowner 
  • Anjali Kailsanathan for an untitled story
  • Alicia Wang for an untitled story

Stage 5  

  • Esther Michail for The Commonplace Female 
  • Lily Castledine for Eyes of a Statue 
  • Estella McFadyen for Lost in the Snowy 
  • Yukiko Walker for Ms. Patricia Burnes 
  • Eunice Thi for an untitled story


Zoe Ghani

Zoe Ghani has two first names and two birthdays, but only one set of these is legal. This is not because she is a spy, but a result of her refugee experience.
Zoe has worked in technology for over a decade and loves to find commonalities between creative writing and creativity in tech. She works as Chief Technology Officer at THE ICONIC and sits on the board of Australia for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. Zoe’s first manuscript, Pomegranate and Fig, was shortlisted for the 2018 Richell Prize for Emerging Authors, and won the 2018 WestWords Emerging Writers Award and the WestWords Fellowship Award.

Kiera Lindsey

Dr Kiera Lindsey is an award-winning historian based at UTS where she is conducting an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Award entitled ‘Historical Craft, Speculative Biography and the Case of Adelaide Ironside’. Her first book, The Convict’s Daughter, was published with Allen & Unwin in 2016 and celebrated for 'blazing a trail between history and fiction'. Her next book, concerned with the colonial artist, Adelaide Ironside (1831-1867), will be published by Allen & Unwin in 2021.  Her interest in the intersections between history and fiction has led to her working in speculative biography and she will also co-publish a book on that subject with Routledge in 2021. In addition to being an executive councillor with the History Council of New South Wales, Kiera has been a history presenter on community, state and national radio and also on television, with SBS, ABC and a four-part series on Australian bushrangers that aired on Foxtel's HISTORY Channel in 2018. 

Mark Tedeschi

Mark Tedeschi AM QC is a well-known Australian barrister, author and photographer.  As the longest serving Senior Crown Prosecutor in New South Wales, he prosecuted some of the most significant and high-profile criminal cases in Australia.  He is also a true-crime author and a passionate photographer who has won many awards and whose works are in the collections of the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Library in Canberra, the Museum of Sydney, the Justice and Police Museum, the State Library of NSW, and many private collections. To write his three true-crime books, Murder at Myall Creek, Kidnapped and Eugenia, Mark made extensive use of the records and photographs at the Justice & Police Museum in Sydney. Mark has also published extensively on legal topics, history, genealogy, photography, and horticulture.