In 1965, Miss Joan Allen began donating £15 annually to the ANU “to establish a prize in the subject of English in the Faculty of Arts”. For almost half a century, Miss Allen continued to serve as an inspirational support to a large number of English students.
Miss Allen was the only surviving child of Dr Leslie Holdsworth Allen, an academic and poet who was a Senior lecturer of English and Classics at the Canberra University College (which was incorporated into ANU in 1960). He made a notable contribution to the cultural life of early Canberra and the Haydon-Allen Building at ANU is a memorial to Professor Haydon and Dr Allen.
Miss Allen continued to donate $200 annually from 1996 to 2005, increasing the value of her gift and the prize to $400 from 2006 to 2009 and to $1,000 in 2010. The joy that she received from giving in her father’s memory continued until she passed away in 2013. In her Will, Miss Allen left a very generous $95,000 bequest to ANU, ensuring that her father’s memory would be honoured through an annual award in perpetuity.