Book cover: 'Book of colours'

Robyn Cadwallader’s award-winning novel tells the story of the commissioning of a gorgeously decorated medieval manuscript.

11 February 2020

Book of Colours, a tale of creativity that plunges the reader into 14th century London, has been named the ACT’s 2019 Book of the Year.

Canberra author Robyn Cadwallader’s novel tells of three people drawn into the creation of a book of prayers, and the tension between their own desires and ambitions.

Cadwallader, also known for her acclaimed novel The Anchoress, receives a $10,000 prize as Book of the Year winner.

The judges considered Book of Colours as a vividly realised and absorbing work, creating an emotionally complex and compelling world.

They described it as a beautiful read that skilfully weaves its powerful themes throughout, with the power to be universal.

Also recognised in this year’s awards were:

  • Made by Humans: The AI Condition by Ellen Broad – Highly Commended
  • Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean by Joy McCann – Highly Commended
  • One by Andrew Hutchinson – Shortlisted
  • Mirror Me by Rachel Sanderson – Shortlisted
  • Things I’ve Thought to Tell You Since I Saw You Last by Penelope Layland – Shortlisted

The ACT Government’s ACT Book of the Year Award aims to support the development of ACT-based writers and promotes writing in the ACT. The award recognises quality contemporary literary works including fiction, non-fiction and poetry by ACT-based authors in the previous calendar year, with prizes of $10,000 for the winner, $2,000 for any highly commended book and $1,000 for each shortlisted book.

Find out more about the ACT Book of the Year Awards at and see the full list of past and present ACT Book of the Year winners at

All Canberra

Share this article:

Subscribe to the OUR CBR newsletter

Get the latest stories in your inbox