Australia’s most prestigious literary award was established through the will of the writer Stella Miles Franklin, best known for her novel My Brilliant Career. The bequest came as a surprise to the literary world as Franklin had told nobody – save her trustees – of her plans.
Miles Franklin had first-hand experience of the struggle to make a living as a writer and was herself the beneficiary of two literary prizes. She was also extremely conscious of the importance of fostering a uniquely Australian literature. She wrote,
"Without an indigenous literature, people can remain alien in their own soil."
Accordingly, the Award is presented each year to a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases.
The Miles Franklin was first awarded in 1957. Since then, the annual announcement of the winner has become an event anticipated and discussed throughout Australia and around the world.