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Thomas Keneally Thomas Keneally i(A14782 works by) (a.k.a. Thomas Michael Keneally; Mick Keneally; Tom Keneally; T. Keneally)
Also writes as: Bernard Coyle ; William Coyle
Born: Established: 1935 Sydney, New South Wales, ;
Gender: Male
Heritage: Irish
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Thomas Keneally trained for several years for the Catholic priesthood and, although ordained deacon, was never made priest. He worked as a schoolteacher and clerk and taught drama at the University of New England. From the mid-1960s on, his novels began to appear and soon Keneally embarked on an extraordinary career as full-time and commercially prosperous writer, with remarkable success in Australia and overseas.

Interested not only in Australian history, but also in that of other parts of the world, Keneally has travelled widely and lived abroad, experiences reflected in the great variety of geographical and historical settings of his books. In 1987, for example, he travelled in Eritrea under the protection of the Eritrean Liberation Front, an event that formed the basis of his book on the Ethiopian-Eritrean war, Towards Asmara (1988).

Known for his humour as well as his moral stance and his commitment for the fate of ordinary people, Keneally has become a public figure in Australia and a sought-after speaker of distinction. He was made an AO in 1983, and, among many other honours, received a DLitt from the University of Queensland. A staunch supporter of Australian republicanism, he also wrote an account of his views on this controversial public issue, Our Republic (1993).

For more information see Thomas Keneally (1991) by Peter Quartermaine and Thomas Keneally : A Celebration (2006) by Peter Pierce.


Most Referenced Works

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Corporal Hitler’s Pistol Sydney : Vintage Australia , 2021 21857861 2021 single work novel

'How did Corporal Hitler's Luger from the First World War end up being the weapon that killed an IRA turncoat in Kempsey, New South Wales, in 1933?

'When an affluent Kempsey matron spots a young Aboriginal boy who bears an uncanny resemblance to her husband, not only does she scream for divorce, attempt to take control of the child’s future and upend her comfortable life, but the whole town seems drawn into chaos.

'A hero of the First World War has a fit at the cinema and is taken to a psychiatric ward in Sydney, his Irish farmhand is murdered, and a gay piano-playing veteran, quietly a friend to many in town, is implicated.

'Corporal Hitler's Pistol speaks to the never-ending war that began with 'the war to end all wars'. Rural communities have always been a melting pot and many are happy to accept a diverse bunch … as long as they don’t overstep. Set in a town he knows very well, in this novel Tom Keneally tells a compelling story of the interactions and relationships between black and white Australians in early twentieth-century Australia.' (Publication summary)

2022 winner HNSA Historical Novel Prize Adult
y separately published work icon Crimes of the Father North Sydney : Vintage Australia , 2016 10186060 2016 single work novel

'A timely, courageous and powerful novel about faith, the church, conscience and celibacy.

'Tom Keneally, ex-seminarian, pulls no punches as he interrogates the terrible damage done to innocents as the Catholic Church has prevaricated around language and points of law, covering up for its own.

'Ex-communicated to Canada due to his radical preaching on the Vietnam War and other human rights causes, Father Frank Docherty is now a psychologist and monk. He returns to Australia to speak on abuse in the Church, and unwittingly is soon listening to stories from two different people – a young man, via his suicide note, and an ex-nun – who both claim to have been sexually abused by an eminent Sydney cardinal. This senior churchman is himself currently empannelled in a commission investigating sex abuse within the Church.

'As a man of character and conscience, Father Docherty finds he must confront each party involved in the abuse and cover-up to try to bring the matter to the attention of the Church itself, and to secular authorities.

'This riveting, profoundly thoughtful novel is both an exploration of faith as well as an examination of marriage, of conscience and celibacy, and of what has become one of the most controversial institutions, the Catholic Church.' (Publication summary)

2017 longlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Literary Fiction Book of the Year
y separately published work icon Napoleon's Last Island North Sydney : Random House Australia , 2015 8864401 2015 single work novel historical fiction

'Whilst living in exile on St Helena, Napoleon exerted an extraordinary influence on young Betsy Balcombe. How did she get from Napoleon's side to the Australian bush?

'Betsy Balcombe as a young woman lived with her family on St Helena. They befriended, served and were ruined by their relationship with Napoleon. To redeem the family's fortunes William Balcombe, Betsy's father, betrays Napoleon and accepts a job as the colonial treasurer of NSW, bringing his family with him. William never recovers from the ups and downs of association with Napoleon. His family however flourish in Australia and remain renowned pastoralists in Victoria.

'Tom Keneally, with his gift for bringing historical stories to life, shares this remarkable friendship and the beginning of an Australian dynasty.' (Publication summary)

2016 longlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Literary Fiction Book of the Year

Known archival holdings

Albinski 113-114
National Library of Australia (ACT)
Last amended 19 Apr 2021 11:52:25
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