The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith

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The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith
First edition
AuthorThomas Keneally
PublisherAngus and Robertson, Australia
Publication date
Media typePrint
Pages178 pp

The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith is a 1972 Booker Prize-nominated novel by Thomas Keneally,[1] and a 1978 Australian film of the same name directed by Fred Schepisi.[2] The novel is based on the life of bushranger Jimmy Governor, the subject of an earlier book by Frank Clune.

Story outline[edit]

The story is written from the perspective of Jimmy Blacksmith, an Indigenous Australian man on a mission of revenge. The story is a fictionalised retelling of the life of the infamous Indigenous Bushranger Jimmy Governor.

Keneally has said were he to write the novel in the present day, he would not presume to write in the voice of an Indigenous Australian.[citation needed]


  • Dedication: To the Memory of Peter Cady [died] January, 1971.


The novel was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1972, losing to John Berger's G..

The film won the Best Original Music Score (Bruce Smeaton), Best Actress in a Lead Role (Angela Punch McGregor) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ray Barrett) and was nominated for 9 more awards at the Australian Film Institute (AFI) for 1978. It was also nominated for the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival.[3]


'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' by Australian Roots-Rock band The Groovesmiths is also based on the story.