UniSA honours award-winning author and “national treasure” - Thomas Keneally

Thomas KeneallyIt will be a rare and special moment for the hundreds of graduates at UniSA’s 3pm graduation on March 29, when they witness the conferral of one of Australia’s most loved and respected authors, Thomas Keneally, as an Honorary Doctor of the University of South Australia.

Best known for his Booker Prize-winning novel, Schindler’s Ark (the basis of the Oscar-winning film, Schindler’s List), Keneally is one of Australia’s most prolific writers of both fiction and non-fiction, with more than 50 works to his credit, ranging from historical novels to biographical works.

His novels The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest and Confederates were all short-listed for the Booker Prize, while Bring Larks and Heroes and Three Cheers for the Paraclete won the Miles Franklin Award.

He will share his experiences from priest-in-training to school teacher, academic, and then novelist, in the occasional address at the graduation.

Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says it is a great privilege to welcome Thomas Keneally into the UniSA community.

“Thomas is one Australia’s most successful and prolific writers – an author who has helped to define and depict Australia across time and changing culture,” Prof Lloyd says.

“He has also looked outwards and written defining works set beyond Australian shores and experience – including immensely powerful works, such as Schindler’s Ark.

Thomas Keneally amongst books“He has published modern and historical novels, biographies, dramas, opinion pieces and children’s stories - using his formidable talents to explore and inform readers of all ages and tastes.

“His love of writing, of storytelling and of using literature to shed light on human character, in all of its extremes, is a great gift to all who love books.

“That he has made such a vibrant, successful career from his writing is an inspiration for all young people who love literature and have a passion for writing.”

Born in Sydney in 1935, Keneally studied for the priesthood as a young man and then began a career in school teaching before his literary success enabled him to become a full-time writer.

In addition to the Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Awards, Tom Keneally has also won the Los Angeles Book Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Prize, the Scripter Award of the University of Southern California, the Mondello International Prize and the Helmerich Award (US).

His histories of Irish convictism, The Great Shame and The Commonwealth of Thieves about the penal origins of Australia, were both published in all the English language markets.

He has also published two volumes of A History of Australians and is working on another volume, which will take the story as far as the fall of Singapore in 1942.

At a special event hosted by the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre on Wednesday from 6.30pm, Thomas Keneally will be In Conversation with radio broadcaster and producer, TV current affairs reporter, news journalist, actor and teacher, Julia Lester. 

Bookings for this free event at Hall K at the Adelaide Convention Centre are essential.

You can book online or telephone 8302 0371 for more information.

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli mobile 0418 823 673 email michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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