A Night With Thomas Keneally | How To Academy

Tue, 5 December 2023

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm GMT

A Night With Thomas Keneally

In Conversation With Erica Wagner

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Widely heralded as the greatest living historical novelist in English, the Booker Prize winning author of Schindler’s Ark Thomas Keneally joins us with a sweeping new tale of injustice and war.

For fifty years Thomas Keneally has been celebrated as the preeminent master of Australian letters; a novelist whose work has shaped our collective memory.

In this livestreamed conversation with former Times Literary Editor Erica Wagner, the four time Booker nominee – and first Australian ever to win the prize – will explore Fanatic Heart, a new novel that renders the 19th century Irish patriot John Mitchel with the precision, realism, and psychological complexity that Keneally brought to figures including Abraham Lincoln and Oskar Schindler.

Summer, 1847. People are getting used to the corpses lying by the road and along the ditches. For John Mitchel – lawyer, journalist, activist, politician – the word ‘famine’ will forever conjure the hollowed faces of Ireland’s dead, the liquid Irish of the past now mute on their tongues.

Propelled by disgust at the injustice, Mitchel will do all he can to fight for the destitute, the starved, the forgotten. His odyssey will take him all the way to America – that land of promise – but it will draw him into a terrible paradox. He is trying to save lives – in doing so, will he betray the very people he is trying to protect?

This online event is free for members of How To Plus.

Praise for Thomas Keneally:

‘One of the world’s greatest writers.’ – Spectator

‘He writes with tenderness and pathos.’ – Irish Times

‘A grand master of historical fiction.’ – Mail on Sunday

‘He succeeds, with touches of brilliance, in bringing to life characters in more detail than history ever possibly could.’ – Sydney Morning Herald

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Thomas Keneally


Thomas Keneally was born in 1935 and his first novel was published in 1964. Since then he has written a considerable number of novels and non-fiction works. His novels include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Schindler’s Ark and The People’s Train. He has won the Miles Franklin Award, the Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Times Prize, the Mondello International Prize and has been made a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library, a Fellow of the American Academy, recipient of the University of California gold medal, and is now the subject of a 55 cent Australian stamp. He has held various academic posts in the United States, but lives in Sydney.

Erica Wagner

Former literary editor of The Times, author and writer for the New Statesman.

Erica Wagner’s latest book is Mary and Mr Eliot: A Sort-of Love Story. She was the literary editor of the London Times for seventeen years and is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and consulting literary editor for Harper’s Bazaar; she is Lead Editorial Innovator for Creatd, Inc. She is the author of Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge, winner of the Eccles Centre and Hay Festival Writer’s Award; her other books are Ariel’s GiftSeizure, Gravity and she is the editor of First Light, a celebration of the work of Alan Garner.