A critically acclaimed biography of French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte by a University of Newcastle historian has taken out top honours at this year's National Biography Awards.
Dr Philip Dwyer, from the University's School of Humanities and Social Science, will be named joint winner of Australia's richest prize for biographical writing tonight for his work Napoleon, 1769-1799 The Path to Power.
Praised for his 'ambitious' and 'refreshing' insight into the life and times of one of the world's most influential players in European history, Dr Dwyer said his interest in Napoleon was piqued during his early university studies.
"I was inspired by a lecturer who was a specialist in the Napoleonic era during my time in Paris in the late 1980s.
"While the focus had predominantly been on the French Revolution, the domination of Napoleon in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century was a fascinating time in European history.
"As a believer in bridging the chasm between academic works and the broader public, my aim with Napoleon was to make history accessible by telling his story and explaining his place in history in everyday language."
Dr Dwyer said with the anniversary of a number of milestones in French history approaching, interest is growing in the life of Napoleon Bonaparte.
"The first decade of the nineteenth century saw France dominate continental Europe following a series of military victories until the failed French invasion of Russia in 1812 and Napoleon's eventual defeat at Waterloo in 1815.
"As the bicentenary of his defeat draws closer, the biographical understanding of the man behind some of the most significant events in modern European history will be invaluable."
Dr Dwyer will be presented with his award and $10,000 prize at a ceremony tonight at the State Library of NSW.
The National Biography Award is administered and presented by the State Library on behalf of Geoffrey Cains and Michael Crouch AO.
Napoleon 1969-1799 The Path to Power is published by Bloomsbury.
Dr Philip Dwyer is available for interview after 8am on Friday 11 April. Please call Blythe Hamilton, Media and Public Relations.