Dr Martin Thomas, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of History at The Australian National University, is the winner of the 2012 National Biography Award. Thomas won the $25,000 award for his 2011 biography, The Many Worlds of R. H. Mathews: In Search of an Australian Anthropologist.
Mathews was a nineteenth-century surveyor and anthropologist who produced a large volume of writing resulting from his field investigations into Indigenous communities in New South Wales.
Alex Byrne, the NSW State Librarian, commented that Thomas’s ‘forensic research’ and ‘superb writing’ produced a biography that reminds Australians of Mathews’s ‘immense contribution’ as an ‘outstanding early investigator of our first peoples and their cultures’.
One of the National Biography Award judges, Peter Rose, said that Thomas’s biography stood out ‘because of its originality, its immense detail and scholarship, and its luminous engagement with his subject’. (NSW State Library media release, 14 May 2012)