The Friends of the Turnbull Library is pleased to announce an essay competition with prizes totalling $15,000 to celebrate the anniversaries of the generous bequest of Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull’s library to the nation in 2018, and the subsequent opening of the Alexander Turnbull Library in 2020.

We are now inviting expressions of interest in submitting an essay on any aspect of Alexander Turnbull’s life and/or his role as a collector.

Essays should be between 3,000–5,000 words in length, and must not have been previously published. We expect they will have a scholarly underpinning and be written in a lively and accessible manner for an informed but not specialist readership.

Turnbull’s personal collection, of some 55,000 books and other items relating to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, formed the basis of the Turnbull Library which has subsequently grown steadily to become the internationally renowned research library it is today, serving all those with interests in the fields of historical, literary, cultural and genealogical studies.

The Friends of the Turnbull Library is an incorporated society established in 1939. The essay competition assists our aims to promote public interest in the Alexander Turnbull Library, and to encourage research and use of Library materials to create new knowledge.

The deadline for expressions of interest in entering the essay competition is 29 June 2018. Subsequent completed essays must be submitted (by email or by post) by 1 September 2019.

Enquiries and Expressions of Interest should be emailed to or