'He immediately establishes his place among the best writers of his time.'
Saturday Review (USA)
Rodney Hall is an author with an international reputation. His books have been published in the USA, the UK, Canada and Australia, also in translation into German, French, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Individual poems and short texts have also been translated into Russian, Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese.
He has had 14 novels published, 11 collections of poems, a collection of short fictions, 2 biographies, the texts for 4 books of photographs on Australian society, plus a travel book on Australia and a political polemic Abolish the States! His play A Return to the Brink was produced at the Malthouse for the 1999 Melbourne International Festival. He has edited/collected 6 anthologies.
His radio scripts have been broadcast by the ABC and the BBC – two 90-minute radio features were ABC Italia Prize entries. His libretto and scenario Whispers, set to music by Andrew Ford, has been performed in every Australian state capital (and recorded by Move Records). He wrote the libretto and directed the opera Dry River Run—music by Paul Dean—in 2019.
From 1967-78 he was Poetry Editor of The Australian. In 1968 he became the first writer to be awarded a resident Creative Arts Fellowship at the Australian National University. He has been recipient of several Literature Board Fellowships and a residency at Yaddo.
Seven times shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, he won it for Just Relations in 1982, also for The Grisly Wife in 1994. He won the Canada-Australia Award in 1988 and the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Captivity Captive in 1989. In 1970 he won third prize in the Captain Cook Bicentenary Competition for the manuscript of his novel A Place Among People. He has been twice awarded the gold medal of the Australian Literature Society, in 1992 and 2001, and three times nominated for the Booker Prize in the UK.
He has given guest lectures at 38 universities (Cambridge, Delhi, Mysore, Bombay, Hyderabad, Calcutta, Beijing, Shanghai Hua Dong, Venice, Hamburg, Tübingen, Aachen, Trier, Stuttgart, Kiel, Berlin, Potsdam, Cologne, Aix-en-Provence, Graz, Klagenfurt, Bologna, Singapore, Penang Sains, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Monash, La Trobe, Sydney, New South Wales, New England, Queensland, Western Australia, Adelaide, Tasmania, Wollongong, Canberra and the Australian National University). He was Distinguished Visiting Professor at Victoria University 2002-2013.
His involvement with Aboriginal rights dates back to the late 1950s in Brisbane when he was a foundation member of the Queensland Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders and founder/editor of the organisation’s Newsletter. Then he became a founder member of the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders as publicity officer and founding editor of Yinjilli (newsletter) through to joining the Queensland campaign committee for the successful 1967 referendum.
In 1991 he spoke on Freedom for East Timor platforms with José Ramos Horta and Justice Elizabeth Evatt. And, more recently, he is on record condemning Australia’s inhuman treatment of asylum seekers.
A supporter of the republican movement, he was invited to take part in the first Centenary of Federation convention held in the South Australian Parliament 1997. He published a polemic Abolish the States! in 1998 as part of the lead up to the 2000 referendum. He has published many articles, mainly in the Australian, on the republican issue and he delivered one of the Deakin Lectures during the Melbourne Centenary of Federation Festival, Being shaped by the stories we tell from our history, which has been several times rebroadcast by the ABC.
His novels engage with political/social issues. Central to this interest is his sequence of seven novels Seven Voices, a metaphorical history of Australia from 1661 to 1928, published as: the trilogy The Island in the Mind, the Yandilli trilogy A dream more luminous than love and The Day we had Hitler Home).
From 1991-1994 Rodney Hall was Chairman of the Australia Council. He was a member of the Prime Minister’s Creative Nation advisory panel. 2003 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters at Queensland University.
In 1988, he was resident at the Australian Studies Centre at the East China Normal University, Shanghai. Since 1992 he has been an active member of the Australia-Korea Foundation (Department of Foreign Affairs) and was artistic director the Australian festival in Seoul, 2002.
In 2004 he curated an exhibition of photographs taken in Japanese-occupied Korea in 1904 by the Australian photographer George Rose. These images have since been published as a luxury book produced in Korea with a bilingual text. And the original prints have been presented as an official gift to the people of Korea from the people of Australia.
Wellknown in early music circles as a recorder player he has given many concerts and played in the orchestra pit for the NSW Opera Company and, most notably with members of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for Young Opera. He taught recorder part-time at the Canberra School of Music in the late 1970s and became co-founder/director of the Australian Summer School of Early Music. He was co-artistic director of a regional festival, the Four Winds Festival, at Bermagui NSW from 1996-2004. As stage director his recent productions include Quilting the Armour (a play about the women in Ned Kelly’s life), Gagliano’s Dafne, 1604, Peri’s Euridice, 1606 (two of the earliest surviving operas) and a whole new reconception of Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale in 2011.
His latest novel A Stolen Season, published by Picador in 2018, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the Prime Minister’s Award.