Today's birthday, October 7: Australian novelist and playwright Thomas Keneally (1935 - )
Thomas Keneally is one of Australia's most successful writers and winner of the Booker Prize for the novel Schindler's Ark, later made into Academy Award-winning film Schindler's List.
Keneally was born in 1935 in Sydney to an Irish Catholic family and completed his schooling at various schools on the New South Wales north coast.
After graduation in 1952, he entered St Patrick's Seminary in Manly to train as a Catholic priest.
Keneally studied for the priesthood for six years but left just before ordination suffering from a nervous collapse.
From 1960, he worked as a schoolteacher, coached football and was a lecturer at the University of New England.
His first novel, The Place at Whitton, was published in 1964.
Since then he has worked as a full-time writer and has published more than 30 novels, dramas, screenplays and books of non-fiction.
Many of his novels are modern reworks of historical material.
Keneally has been short-listed for the prestigious Booker Prize on 4 occasions: in 1972 for The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, in 1975 for the Gossip from the Forest, and in 1979 for the Confederates, before winning the prize in 1982 with Schindler's Ark.
Schindler's Ark is the basis for the 1993 Stephen Spielberg film Schindler's List which went on to win seven Academy Awards.
In addition to the Booker Prize, Keneally has also won the Miles Franklin Award twice with Bring Larks and Heroes in 1967 and Three Cheers for the Paraclete in 1968.
He was awarded the Order of Australia in 1983 for his services to Australian Literature.
The Tom Keneally Centre opened in August 2011 at the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts and is used for book launches, readings, and writing classes.
Outside of writing, Keneally has acted in a handful of films and is also the founding chairman of the Australian Republican Movement.
He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney.