Dame Leonie Kramer graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts in 1945. In 1953, she earned a Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University. Appointed Lecturer in English at the University of New South Wales in 1958, she later became Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor.
In 1968, she was made Professor of Australian Literature at the University of Sydney. Kramer was appointed Deputy Chancellor in 1989 and Chancellor two years later. She held this position until 2001, the year of her resignation.
Kramer has written and edited a number of significant publications in the field of Australian literature. She edited the Oxford History of Australian Literature (1981), and has also published studies of particular authors, such as Henry Handel Richardson, Henry Kendall, James McAuley and A. D. Hope.
She has held a number of influential administrative roles, including chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1982-1983). She has been a board member of the Secondary Schools Board (1976-1982), the Council of the National Library (1975-1981) and the University of Sydney's Senate and Council.
Kramer has been honored with numerous awards, including an honorary DLitt from the University of Tasmania, and honorary LLDs from the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University. In 1976, she received an OBE and in 1983 a DBE.