Tom Keneally Centre

The SMSA is proud to be the home of the Tom Keneally Centre (TKC), Thomas Keneally’s living legacy to Australia, holding books that have significance to him.

The centre is open to all. It hosts Keneally’s research collection as well as other memorabilia. Everyone is welcome to visit and SMSA Members may borrow from the collection. It can also be hired as a venue through our Venue Hire team for literary activities such as writing classes, readings and author talks.

Everyone Welcome!

Opening Hours 
Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays
from 10.30am – 2.30pm

280 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000

TKC - About the TKC

About the Tom Keneally Centre

The Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts is proud to be the home of the Tom Keneally Centre, which holds the research collection of world-renowned author Thomas Keneally, in addition to copies of his own works and some items from his private collection of photographs and memorabilia.

The Westfield Group, headed by Frank Lowy, generously funded the construction of the Tom Keneally Centre, while the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts has provided the space on Level 3, furnishings and staffing on an ongoing basis.

The Tom Keneally Centre’s look and feel reflects, as much as possible, the character of Tom’s original library.
It was officially opened on 18 August 2011 by Her Excellency, Professor Marie Bashir, AC, CVO, Governor of New South Wales in August 2011.

The Tom Keneally Centre is devoted to Australian literature and history, reflecting the synergy between the SMSA and Tom Keneally’s approach to writing and to life; open access to knowledge, continued learning and social change.

Tom Keneally Centre Page - Borrowing..-20210414_SMSA_0059

Borrowing from the Tom Keneally Centre

Everyone is welcome to visit the Tom Keneally Centre. You do not need to be an SMSA member to browse the Tom Keneally Centre collection.

To borrow from the Tom Keneally Centre collection, you must be a current SMSA member, either full or concession.

Readers ticket holders and WEA members are not eligible to borrow from the Tom Keneally Centre as their borrowing rights extend to the main SMSA Library only.

Tom Keneally First Editions are not available for loan. A maximum number of two (2) books may be borrowed from the Tom Keneally Centre at any one time for a period of four (4) weeks.

Tom Keneally Centre books may be renewed once. Members may place a hold/reservation on books – items will be held a maximum of two weeks.

Where possible, please assist us by returning items borrowed from the Tom Keneally Centre directly to the SMSA Tom Keneally Centre, rather than to the main SMSA library on level 2.


Thomas Keneally – About the Man

Thomas Keneally is one of Australia’s best known and most respected authors, writing both fiction and non-fiction. Born in 1935, he has published more than 35 novels, 18 non-fiction works and several plays since 1964. In 1982 he won the Man Booker Prize for Schindler’s Ark (1982), later made into the Academy Award-winning film Schindler’s List (1993) by Steven Spielberg.

Keneally’s fiction includes The Widow and Her Hero (2007), which was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award, An Angel in Australia (2002) and Bettany’s Book (2000). His novels The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (1972), Gossip from the Forest (1975), and Confederates (1979) were all shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, while Bring Larks and Heroes (1967) and Three Cheers for the Paraclete (1968) won the Miles Franklin Award in two consecutive years. The People’s Train (2009) was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize, South East Asia division.



As well as writing many novels, Keneally also writes historical non-fiction. His history of Irish convictism The Great Shame (1998) was published in all English language markets. The same is true of his later work, The Commonwealth of Thieves (2005), which looked upon the penal origins of Australia in a way which sought to make the reader feel close to the experience of individual Aboriginals, convicts and officials.

In recent years Keneally and his daughter Meg Keneally have teamed up to write the Monsarrat series which so far includes The Soldier’s Curse (2016), The Unmourned (2017), The Power Game (2018) and The Ink Stain (2019).

Keneally’s latest work Fanatic Heart was published in 2022. This fictional work follows the tale of Irish patriot John Mitchel and retells his life and exploits. It particularly focuses on his time in exile on Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). To read an excerpt from the book and to learn more about the book click here.

Tom Keneally has the won the Miles Franklin Award, the Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Book Prize, the Royal Society of Literature Prize, the Scripter Award of the University of Southern California, the Mondello International Prize and the Helmerich Prize. He was recently awarded the 2022 ARA Historical Novel Prize (Adult Category) for Corporal Hitler’s Pistol (2021). Keneally lives in Sydney with his wife, and is Number 1 ticket-holder of the Manly-Warringah Rugby League team.

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