Mr Thomas Keneally AO




That Australian Literature is now an established and universally recognised branch of English Literature is the achievement of a group of people among whom Thomas Michael Keneally has few peers and no superior. The international recognition accorded his literary talents has placed him in the very forefront of the world's writers. 

After studying for the priesthood, he worked in a number of occupations, including that of Lecturer in Drama at the University of New England in 1968-9. The success of his writing and his prolific output quickly determined the nature of his career, and he subsequently returned to the academic world as a distinguished Visiting Professor, to the Irvine Campus of the University of California in 1985 and to New York University in 1988. 

His many novels employ recurrent themes such as the predicament of the ordinary individual in a hostile world and the contrast between the old world and the new. The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith and Schindler's Ark are two of his best known and widely acclaimed books. His publications have brought him a succession of prizes and awards, national and international, and he has personally adapted many of his works for other media, the stage, the cinema, and television. 

Thomas Keneally has been prominently involved in many other activities in national and international affairs including membership of the Australia-China Council, 1978-1983, and the advisory panel of the Australian Constitutional Commission, 1985-1988. He is also a prominent supporter of the republican movement within Australia. 

Mr Chancellor, for his distinguished contributions to literature, I present to you Thomas Michael Keneally, Officer of the Order of Australia and Fellow of the Royal SGciety of Literature, for the conferral of the award of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, to which he has been admitted by the Senate of the University. 


Doctor of Letters honoris causa