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Kramer, Leonie Judith (1924 - 2016)

Dame, AC, DBE, OBE

Born
1 October 1924
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died
20 April 2016
Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation
Academic, Educator and Professor

Summary

Leonie Kramer has been notable as an academic and public figure, particularly as Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 1982-1983 and professor of Australian literature at Sydney University from 1968, and later chancellor from 1991-2001. She has supported conservative educational values in the face of progressive approaches and has continued to campaign against the adoption of a republican form of government in Australia. She was appointed as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 31 December 1982 for services to literature and the public.

Details

Daughter of Alfred and Gertrude Gibson.

Leonie Kamer was educated at the Presbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne, the University of Melbourne, where she gained a Bachelor of Arts in 1945, and Oxford University, where she gained a Doctor of Philosophy in 1953. During her postgraduate years at Oxford she tutored at St Hughes College. She married Harold Kramer in 1952, and produced two daughters.

Her academic career blossomed with her appointment as lecturer in English in 1958, then later senior lecturer and associate professor in English at the University of New South Wales. She remained there until 1968 when she was appointed professor of Australian Literature at the University of Sydney. She was visiting professor at Harvard University's Chair of Australian Literature Studies from 1981-82.

The work of Henry Handel Richardson has been the major focus of her critical writing and she edited the Oxford History of Australian Literature1981, which argues the case for Australian literature as a branch of European literature. She also edited a number of publications on Australian Literature. Her list of publications is included in the Published Resources section.

She enhanced her public profile when she accepted the position of Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 1982-83, having served as a member of the ABC board from 1977.She served on a number of other boards and committees which included the Secondary Schools Board from 1976-82, the Council of the National Library from 1975-81, the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters from 1977-81, fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney from 1969-74 and member of the Universities Council from 1977-86. Other appointments include serving on the boards of the ANZ bank and Western Mining Corporation, senior fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs and commissioner of the NSW Electricity Commission.

In 1986 she received the inaugural Britannica Award for the 'dissemination of learning for the benefit of mankind'. Other awards include an honorary DLitt from the University of Tasmania, an honorary LLD from both the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University. She was appointed OBE in 1976 and DBE in 1983.

Her association with the University of Sydney continued with her appointment in 1989 as Deputy Chancellor and then in 1991 Chancellor, a position she held until 2001, when she resigned in controversial circumstances.

She upholds traditional educational values, and was a prominent member of the organisation called 'Australians for a constitutional monarchy' which was established in 1992 in response to growing republican sentiment and actively campaigned against a republican system of government for Australia when a referendum was held on the question in 1999.

She died at Elizabeth Bay on 20 April 2106.

Sources: 'Kramer, Leonie Judith', The Oxford Companion to Australian History, OUP, Melbourne, 2000; 'Kramer, Dame Leonie Judith (1924-'; The Australian Encyclopaedia, vol. 5, 6th ed., 1996; 'Kramer, Dame Leonie Judith', Who's who in Australia 2002.

Rosemary Francis

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