Peter Conrad

Peter John Conrad (b 1948), notable trans-Atlantic cultural critic, was born in Hobart. Educated at the University of Tasmania, he left in 1968 to take up a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. He did not return for more than a decade, and it was nearly twenty years before his controversial Down Home (1987) was published. He had 'begun to wonder about what I had lost', but this Romantic autobiography was locally stigmatised as disloyal to Tasmania, which Conrad had styled 'the Appalachia of the Antarctic'. Childhood railings at his fate, 'this was not the life I wanted; somehow I'd been given the wrong one', yielded to the recognition that we are all 'sundered, solitary, disowned'.

Conrad perhaps conceded the point with the title of At Home in Australia (2003), reflections on the country provoked by photographs from the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. The belated return of the native was saluted by the award of an honorary doctorate from the University of Tasmania in 2000.

Peter Pierce