The only people in this photo I actually recognise are journalist George Megalogenis, the tall dark dude over to the left, and Scribe publisher Aviva Tuffield, who is the smiling woman with darkish shoulder-length hair tucked behind one ear, at far right.
Chris Gordon, the events manager at Readings bookshop and a fellow member of the Stella Prize steering committee (as is Aviva, above), spoke persuasively of the need for sponsors and donations, and then introduced Australian feminist legend Anne Summers, author of Damned Whores and God's Police, which if memory serves was the first, or certainly one of the first, books in Australia to look at Australian history and culture through the lens of a feminist reading.
Anne officially launched the prize, reading the notes for her speech straight off her iPad, the first (though no doubt not the last) time I'd ever seen anybody do that. One of the most arresting things she said was that things were actually better for women in 1994 and we had apparently gone backwards.
But mostly the party was about the prize: what we've done so far, what we have still to do. The large crowd included most of the steering committee, mostly Melbourne writers and publishers: Chris, Aviva, Monica Dux, Jo Case, Rebecca Starford, and Sophie Cunningham who started it all.
Sophie Cunningham (R) with Pip McGuinness from NewSouth Books, the brains behind their Capital Cities series and therefore publisher of Sophie's book Melbourne and, next month, my book Adelaide.
The other Melbourne committee members include Jenny Niven, the MWF programmer, who I don't think was there (if I were the MWF programmer I'd be home in a coma by now) and Louise Swinn, who wasn't well. Susan Johnson from Brisbane also wasn't well enough to come, though she'd planned to. Kirsten Tranter and I flew down from Sydney and Adelaide respectively. See the Stella website at the above link for more detail on all these people.
L to R: Monica Dux, Rebecca Starford, Jo Case
Others spotted in the crowd included Melbourne publishing legend Hilary McPhee; longtime literary editor of The Age Jason Steger; publishers Philippa McGuinness from NewSouth Books and Michael Heyward from Text; Adam Bandt MP, the Federal Member for Melbourne; and Mark Rubbo, Managing Director of Readings bookshop, who has been a quietly effective supporter of the Stella Prize from the beginning.
Sophie Cunningham, Adam Bandt. The person he is talking to is probably Kirsten Tranter -- I think I recognise the outfit.
It was Kirsten who wondered on Facebook the night before the party which members of the steering committee would be out in Flinders Street drunkenly shouting 'Hey STELLA!' before the night was over. The closest I got to that myself was a quiet bottle of Stella Artois back in my hotel room later that night as I read the grisly new Val McDermid. My days for this sort of thing are a very long way behind me.