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Thomas Keneally

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Occupation  Novelist
Name  Thomas Keneally
Nationality  Australia
Role  Novelist
Genre  Novels
Spouse  Judith Martin (m. 1965)
Notable awards  Booker Prize

Thomas Keneally smsaorgauassetsTomKeneallywithhatTEMP620x
Full name  Thomas Michael Keneally
Born  Thomas Michael Keneally 7 October 1935 (age 80)Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (1935-10-07)
Education  St Patrick's College, Strathfield
Movies  Schindler's List, The Devil's Playground, Libido, Silver City, The Final Winter, Essington
Awards  Man Booker Prize, Helmerich Award, Logie Award for Best TV Script, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction
Books  Schindler's Ark, The Daughters of Mars, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Shame and the Captives, The Playmaker
Similar People  Oskar Schindler, Itzhak Stern, Steven Zaillian, Rosie Scott, Steven Spielberg

Thomas keneally 2013 national book festival

Thomas Michael Keneally, AO (born 7 October 1935) is a prolific Australian novelist, playwright, and essayist. He is best known for writing Schindler's Ark, the Booker Prize-winning novel of 1982 which was inspired by the efforts of Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor. The book would later be adapted to Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.


Thomas Keneally Writing under the stars with Australian living treasure

Lansdowne club chairmans award recipent thomas keneally

Early life

Thomas Keneally Thomas Keneally ABC News Australian Broadcasting

Both Keneally's parents (Edmund Thomas Keneally and Elsie Margaret Coyle) were born to Irish fathers in the timber and dairy town of Kempsey, New South Wales, and, though born in Sydney, his early years were also spent there. By 1942, the family had moved to 7 Loftus Crescent, Homebush, a working-class suburb in the west of Sydney and Keneally was enrolled at Christian Brothers St Patrick's College, Strathfield. Shortly after, his brother John was born. Keneally studied Honours English for his Leaving Certificate in 1952, under Brother James Athanasius McGlade, and won a Commonwealth scholarship.

Thomas Keneally Australian Authors Thomas Keneally

Keneally then entered St Patrick's Seminary, Manly to train as a Catholic priest. Although he was ordained as a deacon while at the seminary, after six years there he left in a state of depression and without being ordained to the priesthood. He worked as a Sydney schoolteacher before his success as a novelist and was a lecturer at the University of New England (1968–70).

His father, Edmund Thomas Keneally, flew for the RAAF in World War II, then returned to work in a small business in Sydney.

Keneally was known as "Mick" until 1964 but began using the name Thomas when he started publishing, after advice from his publisher to use what was really his first name.


Thomas Keneally QampA Thomas Keneally Life and style The Guardian

Kenneally's first story was published in the Bulletin magazine in 1962 under the pseudonym Bernard Coyle. By February 2014, he had written over 50 books, including 30 novels. He is particularly famed for his Schindler's Ark (1982) (later republished as Schindler's List), the first novel by an Australian to win the Booker Prize and is the basis of the film Schindler's List. He had already been shortlisted for the Booker three times prior to that: 1972 for The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, 1975 for Gossip from the Forest, and 1979 for Confederates.

Many of his novels are reworkings of historical material, although modern in their psychology and style.

Keneally has also acted in a handful of films. He had a small role in Fred Schepisi's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978) (based on his own novel) and played Father Marshall in the award-winning film The Devil's Playground (1976), also by Schepisi.

In 1983, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). He is an Australian Living Treasure.

Keneally was a member of the Literature Board of the Australia Council from 1985 to 1988 and President of the National Book Council from 1985 to 1989.

Keneally was a visiting professor at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) where he taught the graduate fiction workshop for one quarter in 1985. From 1991 to 1995, he was a visiting professor in the writing program at UCI.

In 2006, Peter Pierce, Professor of Australian Literature, James Cook University, wrote:

The Tom Keneally Centre opened in August 2011 at the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, housing Keneally's books and memorabilia. The site is used for book launches, readings and writing classes.

Personal life

Keneally married Judy Martin, then a nurse, in 1965, and they had two daughters, Margaret and Janet.

Keneally was the founding chairman (1991-93) of the Australian Republican Movement and published a book on the subject Our Republic in 1993. Several of his Republican essays appear on the website of the Movement. He is also a keen supporter of rugby league football, in particular the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles club of the NRL. in 2004, he gave the sixth annual Tom Brock Lecture. He made an appearance in the 2007 rugby league drama film The Final Winter.

In March 2009, the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, gave an autographed copy of Keneally's biography Lincoln to President Barack Obama as a state gift.

Keneally's nephew Ben is married to former Premier of New South Wales and Sky News Australia newscaster Kristina Keneally.

Schindler's Ark

Keneally wrote the Booker Prize-winning novel in 1982, inspired by the efforts of Poldek Pfefferberg, a Holocaust survivor. In 1980, Keneally met Pfefferberg in the latter's shop, and learning that he was a novelist, Pfefferburg showed him his extensive files on Oskar Schindler, including the original list itself. Keneally was interested, and Pfefferberg became an advisor for the book, accompanying Keneally to Poland where they visited Kraków and the sites associated with the Schindler story. Keneally dedicated Schindler's Ark to Pfefferberg: "who by zeal and persistence caused this book to be written." He said in an interview in 2007 that what attracted him to Oskar Schindler was that "it was the fact that you couldn't say where opportunism ended and altruism began. And I like the subversive fact that the spirit breatheth where it will. That is, that good will emerge from the most unlikely places". The book was later made into a film titled Schindler's List (1993) directed by Steven Spielberg, earning the director his first Best Director Oscar. Keneally's meeting with Pfefferberg and their research tours are detailed in Searching for Schindler: A Memoir (2007). Some of the Pfefferberg documents that inspired Keneally are now housed in the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney. In 1996 the State Library purchased this material from a private collector.


Keneally has been awarded honorary doctorates including one from the National University of Ireland.


  • "Irish Escape". Secrets of the Dead. 2008-06-04. PBS. Thirteen. 
  • References

    Thomas Keneally Wikipedia