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Inga Clendinnen

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Name  Inga Clendinnen

Role  Author
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Born  Inga Vivienne Jewell 17 August 1934 (age 81)Geelong, Victoria (1934-08-17)
Institutions  La Trobe University (1969–91)University of Melbourne (1956–68)
Alma mater  University of Melbourne (BA [Hons], MA)La Trobe University (DLitt)
Main interests  MesoamericaEuropean contact with indigenous populations
Notable awards  Herbert Eugene Bolton Memorial Prize (1988)Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (1992)New South Wales Premier's General History Prize (1999)New South Wales Premier's Gleebooks Prize for Critical Writing (2000)Adelaide Festival Innovation Writing Prize (2002)Centenary Medal (2003)Queensland Premier's History Book Award (2004)New South Wales Premier's Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction (2004)Kiriyama Prize for Non-Fiction (2004)Australian Society of Authors Medal (2005)Officer of the Order of Australia (2006)Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal (2007)
Parents  Catherine Jewell, Thomas William Jewell
Education  University of Melbourne, La Trobe University
Awards  National Jewish Book Award for Holocaust, New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year
Books  Ambivalent Conquests, Aztecs, Reading the Holocaust, Dancing with Strangers, Tiger's Eye

Inga clendinnen and robert manne adelaide writers week

Inga Vivienne Clendinnen, AO, FAHA (née Jewell; 17 August 1934 – 8 September 2016) was an Australian author, historian, anthropologist, and academic.


Inga clendinnen and robert manne part 2 adelaide writers week

Early life and education

Clendinnen was born in Geelong, Victoria, in 1934. She was the youngest of four children. Her father owned a cabinet-making business and later became a Geelong City Councillor; her mother was a homemaker. Clendinnen graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours, followed by a Master of Arts in 1975.


Clendinnen's work focused on social history, and the history of cultural encounters. She was considered an authority on Aztec civilisation and pre-Columbian ritual human sacrifice. She also wrote on the Holocaust, and on first contacts between indigenous Australians and white explorers.

Clendinnen held the post of senior tutor of History at the University of Melbourne from 1955 to 1968, was a lecturer at La Trobe University from 1969 to 1982, and was then a senior lecturer in History until 1989. Forced to curtail her academic activities after contracting hepatitis in 1991, Clendinnen began working on her memoir, Tiger's Eye, which focused on issues of illness and death. She retained an association with La Trobe University, however, as she was appointed Emeritus Scholar.

In 1999, she was invited to present the 40th annual Boyer Lectures. The ideas presented in these lectures, concerning first contacts in Australia, were later published as True Stories.

In the Australia Day 2006 Honours List, Clendinnen was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), with a citation that read:

For service to scholarship as a writer and historian addressing issues of fundamental concern to Australian society and for contributing to shaping public debate on conflicting contemporary issues.

Clendinnen's AO award was noted and a motion paying tribute to her contributions was passed, in the proceedings of the New South Wales State Parliament's Upper House.

Personal life and death

Clendinnen married the philosopher of science John Clendinnen in 1955, and had two children with him. Inga Clendinnen died on 8 September 2016 after a short illness.

Awards and nominations

  • 1988 – received the Herbert Eugene Bolton Memorial Prize for Ambivalent Conquests
  • 1999 – winner of the NSW History Awards, Premier's General History Prize for Reading the Holocaust
  • 1999 – Reading the Holocaust was judged Best Book of the Year by The New York Times
  • 2000 – New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Gleebooks Prize for Critical Writing for Reading the Holocaust
  • 2002 – received the Adelaide Festival Award for Innovation for Tiger's Eye
  • 2003 – received the Premier's History Award for her piece "History Here: a Vier from Outside"
  • 2004 – New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction for Dancing with Strangers
  • 2005 – recipient of the ASA (Australian Society of Authors) biennial medal
  • 2006 – Appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia for her services as a writer and historian.
  • 2007 – received the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal
  • 2016 – Dan David Prize
  • References

    Inga Clendinnen Wikipedia