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About the Fellowship

Nancy Keesing

Nancy Keesing

For research into any aspect of Australian life and culture using the resources of the State Library of New South Wales.

The Nancy Keesing AM Fellowship, honouring key Australian literary figure, author and poet Nancy Keesing AM (1923-1993), was established by her husband, Dr Mark Hertzberg AO (1924–2015), past President of the Library Council of New South Wales. 

It is expected that Nancy Keesing Fellows will:

  • Be experienced researchers who are able to demonstrate a successful record of scholarship, publications and research outcomes.
  • Be able to demonstrate a high-level capacity to promote their work through a variety of media channels in collaboration with the State Library.
  • Agree that the fellowship is a priority during their tenure and that a concentrated period of effort, in the one year tenure, will be made to deliver the fellowship.
  • Actively promote the research undertaken during their tenure.
  • Make a presentation about the project at the conclusion of the fellowship.
  • Ensure any publications, outcomes or media coverage which result from the fellowship prominently acknowledge the support of the State Library of NSW and the fellowship.
  • Contribute to State Library of NSW print and online publications.
  • Submit, to the Mitchell Librarian, a four-page summary of their completed project, copies of any research outcomes (presentations and publications) and a bibliography.
  • Acquit their fellowship in a timely manner.




Dr Monique Rooney, for her project: A Window of Life: Ruth Park, a biography


Dr Sarah Kirby, for her project: The British (and International?) Music Society: Cultural renewal and musical cosmopolitanism in inter-war Sydney.


Dr Scott McKinnon, for his project: Lobbying for Law Reform: The campaign to decriminalise male homosexuality in New South Wales, 1980-84.


Dr Sophie Robinson, for her project: Lesbian Sydney in the 1990s


Dr Kate Forsyth, for her project: Charlotte Atkinson: Australia’s first children’s writer

The project examined the life of her relative Charlotte Atkinson, who anonymously published the first children’s book written in Australia in the aftermath of great personal trauma, including poverty, domestic violence and custody battle.


Dr Neil James, for his project: The A&R Century: A history of Angus and Robertson.

The project was based on the Library’s extensive A&R archives, and seeks to explain how the publisher both reflected and shaped Australian culture and identity. The project engages with the contemporary academic interest in book history, and builds on a strong foundation of A&R scholarship. 


Associate Professor Lee Stickells, for his project: Aquarian Green: Building new ways of living in the 1970s counterculture.

This project explored the experimental architecture from the 1970s counterculture movement in Australia. He is using Library collections such as the Rainbow Archive from northern New South Wales. 


Dr Anne Jamison, for her project: "The enjoyment of a good story": Gender and Australian national identity in Catherine Helen Spence's literature for Children.

This project highlighted Helen Spence's active participation in the development of Australian national identity in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, a key period of heightened cultural nationalism in Australia, alongside her advocacy of women's emancipation.  


Dr Louise Mayhew, for her project: “Volatile, feral and glamorous”: A history of the Women’s Warehouse 1979-1981.

This project traced the history of the Women’s Warehouse, a hotbed of women’s political feminist and creative collective activity. The Library’s collections hold the papers of the Women’s Warehouse, and a significant collection of posters generated by this Collective. 


Blake Singley, for his project: Selling the Modern Housewife: Cookbooks, gender and consumption in Australia.

This project looked beyond recipes and cooking to their reflection on contemporaneous society. The Library has a rich collection of cookbooks, particularly the John Hoyle Cookery Collection, this project provided an innovative prism with which to view them.


Dr Michael Thompson, for his project: Dust Bowls and Wilderness: Transnational currents of environmental critique in interwar Australia.

This project examined the emergence of critiques of the environmental impact of “progress” between the war years, when settler triumphalism clashed with early conservationists.


Dr Nicola Teffer, for her project: Big River: Representations of Aborigines and Europeans on the Clarence River Frontier, 1864-1900.

This project looked at photographic images of the Gumbainggir people and settlers made by three German photographers – Conrad Wagner, JW Lindt, and Carl Ehlers – and sought to understand their specific geographic and historical context.


Dr Roger Osborne, for his project: A Material and Textual Study of Joseph Furphy’s Such is Life: towards an electronic edition of an Australian classic.


Valerie Lawson, for her project: A History of Dance in Australia from 1926 to the Present Day.


Dr Melanie Swalwell, for her project: The Production and Reception of Computer Games in the 1980s


Dr Roderick Fensham, for his project: The Leichhardt Diaries: developing the geographical and historical context of the diaries, 1842-1844


Dr Amanda Card, for her project: The Tempo of Criticism: an exploration of the writings of Jean Garling as a dance critic


Dr Brooke Collins-Gearing, for her project: Tiddas and Daughters: discourses in Australian literature.


Dr Jill Matthews, for her project: Hidden Treasures of the Mitchell Library Periodicals, 1900-1930.


Jeannine Baker, for her project: Australian Women War Correspondents: from World War One to Vietnam


Dr Caroline Jones, for her project: George Robertson and his Contribution to National Cultural Identity


Dr Maria Nugent, for her project: Europeans and Aboriginal Australians in Botany Bay


Dr Patty O'Brien, for her project: Post-World War Two Colonial Attitudes in Papua New Guinea.


Dr Sonia Mycak, for her project: A Study of the role of Angus & Robertson: the formation of a national body of literature in Australia


Dr Maxine Darnell, for her project: A History of Indentured Chinese Labourers in New South Wales.


Elaine Van Kempen, for her project: Theatre as an Important Element in Australian Cultural History.


Dr Ragbir Bhathal, for his project: A Biography of the Nineteenth-Century Astronomer John Tebbutt


Jennifer Hill, for her project: A Review, Assessment and Survey of Architectural Plans at the State Library of New South Wales

1994 (Inaugural)

Meg Stewart, for her project: An Overview of the Literary Papers of Nancy Keesing and a New Compilation of Poems