Thomas Keneally was born in 1935 and, as well as writing many novels, has shown an increasing interest in producing histories. His history of Irish convictism was a read-out of the problems of Ireland itself was entitled The Great Shame and was published in all the English language markets. The same was true of his later work, The Commonwealth of Thieves, which looked upon the penal origins of Australia in a way which sought to make the reader feel close to the experience of individual Aboriginals, convicts and officials. He has tried to bring the same intimacy and sense of surprise to A History of Australians His short biography of Abraham Lincoln, signed by the author, was recently given by the Australian prime minister to President Obama of the United States as a gift.
As a novelist, his better known works include Bring Larks and Heroes, The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest, Schindler’s Ark, Towards Asmara, and The People’s Train. He has the won the Miles Franklin Award, The Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Book Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Prize, the Scripter Award of the University of Southern California, the Mondello International Prize, the Helmerich Prize (U.S.). He holds a number of national and international honorary doctorates and is particularly proud of the one awarded by the National University of Ireland. He has also been awarded the Gold Medal of the University of California. He has made cameo appearances in a number of Australian films, the last being as a gate-keeper in The Final Winter. His offer to Spielberg to play a rabbi in Schindler’s List was politely rebuffed. He has in recent years published Three Famines, a narrative history of famine, and his new novel, The Daughters of Mars, Napoleon’s Last Island and Crimes of the Father. The Book of Science and Antiquities, a novel in part about a man living and dying 42,000 years ago in a community of homo sapiens in Australia, will be published in October 2018.
He was the founding chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, and served on the Australian Constitutional Commission and the Australia-China Council and has been declared a National Living Treasure.
He has now published three volumes of A History of Australians and written four Monsarrat gentleman-convict detective stories with his daughter Meg Keneally. He lives in Sydney with his wife Judy..