Rhys Isaac

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Rhys Llywelyn Isaac (20 November 1937 – 6 October 2010 [1]) was a South African-born Australian historian, who also worked in the United States.

Rhys Isaac with book 1983

Isaac and his twin brother Glynn were born in Cape Town, South Africa, to William Edwyn Isaac and Frances Margaret Leighton, both professional botanists. Rhys Isaac was the 1959 Cape Province Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College (Oxford).[citation needed]

In 1963 he emigrated to Australia, where he taught at the University of Melbourne and later at La Trobe University (1971-91). He also was Emeritus Professor of American History at La Trobe University, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Early American History at the College of William & Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia.[citation needed]

In 1983, Rhys Isaac won the Pulitzer Prize for History for his book The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790. He remains the only Australian historian ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. 2004 saw the publication of Isaac's Landon Carter's Uneasy Kingdom: Revolution and Rebellion on a Virginia Plantation, which made use of the exemplary diary of a Virginian landholder and member of the House of Burgesses.


Rhys Isaac died at his home in Blairgowrie, Victoria, Australia, on 6 October 2010, aged 72, from undisclosed causes.