Thomas Shapcott

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Thomas William Shapcott AO (born 21 March 1935) is an Australian poet, novelist, playwright, editor, librettist, short story writer and teacher.


Thomas William Shapcott[1] was born in Ipswich, Queensland, and attended the Ipswich Grammar School with his twin brother, who was born on the previous day (20 March 1935). (The writer is left-handed, but his twin is right-handed.) He left school at 15 to work in his father's accountancy business, but completed an accountancy degree in 1961. In 1967 he graduated in arts from the University of Queensland.[2]

His first artistic impulse was to be a composer. By age 19, he had written a number of works, but he turned away from music when he discovered a string quartet he had written unconsciously plagiarised a chamber work by Ernest Bloch.[3] He then worked as a tax accountant, a profession that he pursued for 27 years.

He was director of the Australia Council's Literature Board for seven years, and Executive Director of the National Book Council (1992–97). He was Professor of Creative Writing at Adelaide University.[4]

He has written 15 collections of poetry and 6 novels.

Thomas Shapcott was appointed an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia in 1989.[1]

Selected list of works[edit]

Poetry (collections)

  • Time on Fire
  • The Mankind Thing
  • Shabbytown
  • Calendar
  • In the Beginning
  • Chekhov's Mongoose
  • Spirit Wrestlers
  • Chained Blue Heeler
  • surf and sand


  • White Stag of Exile
  • Mona's Gift
  • Theatre of Darkness[5]


  • Grace Leven Poetry Prize, 1961: winner for "Time on Fire".
  • Myer Award for Australian Poetry, 1967: winner for A taste of salt water
  • C.J. Dennis Memorial Poetry Competition, Open Section, 1976: commended for The five senses
  • Canada-Australia Literary Award, 1978
  • Officer of the Order of Australia, 1989, for his services to Literature
  • Golden Wreath of the Struga Poetry Evenings laureate, 1990
  • Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry, 1996
  • New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Special Discretionary Award, 1996
  • Patrick White Award, 2000
  • Harold White Fellowships, 2005. Note: to examine the papers of Ray Mathew
  • Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Macquarie University

See also[edit]

First Seed Ripening an album by Elixir and Katie Noonan. The tracks on this album are inspired by Shapcott's writing.


  1. ^ a b It's an Honour
  2. ^ Australian Poets and their Works, by W. Wilde, Oxford University Press, 1996
  3. ^ Jason Steger, Best wishes from Patrick White: $20,000 prize for a man of letters, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 November 2000, p.5
  4. ^ The Age, Easter Edition 25–26 March 2005, Review, p. 16
  5. ^ National Library of Australia Theatre of darkness : Lillian Nordica as opera; Retrieved 11 August 2013

External links[edit]