January 2, 2022

Hugh Lunn Hon.DLitt Qld. FQA

Doctor of Letters honoris causa

“There’s no such thing as an ex-Queenslander. There’s only lapsed Queenslanders.”

Watch the ceremony HERE…Introduction 0:50 – Speech 1:38

In December 2021 the Chancellor of the University of Queensland, Mr Peter Varghese AO, BA(Hons), Hon.DLitt Qld, conferred an honorary doctorate of letters on Hughie. The Vice-Chancellor and President, Prof. Deborah Terry AO, BA(Hons), PhD ANU, HonLLD Aberd., FASSA, read the Citation.


Mr Hugh Lunn
Doctor of Letters honoris causa
The University of Queensland
11 December 2021


Mr Hugh Lunn is an acclaimed author, biographer and multi-award-winning journalist, and one of the finest Australian writers of his generation.

After completing a journalism cadetship at The Courier-Mail newspaper, Mr Lunn worked for the Daily Mirror in London before becoming a Reuters correspondent covering the Vietnam War. At great personal risk, he witnessed and reported on the 1968 Tet Offensive, a series of coordinated Viet Cong attacks on cities and outposts in South Vietnam. A number of Australian journalists – including Mr Lunn’s roommate – were killed.

With courage and commitment, he continued to report for Reuters in volatile situations including the so-called Act of Free Choice in 1969, when Indonesia took over the western half of New Guinea.

Returning to Australia in 1971, Mr Lunn joined The Australian newspaper in Queensland, winning three Walkley Awards for feature writing between 1974 and 1979.

In 1985, he published a memoir, Vietnam: A Reporter’s War with University of Queensland Press, which was critically praised. It won The Age Book of the Year award and was twice published in New York.

He also enjoyed great success with his childhood memoir, Over the top with Jim, a humorous and heartwarming evocation of growing up in the suburbs of Brisbane. It became the biggest selling non-fiction book in Australia in 1991 and the highest-selling Australian childhood memoir of all time. It has since been serialised nationally on radio, screened as a documentary and adapted by Mr Lunn into a stage play.

UQP Publisher Dr Craig Munro wrote that his books of memoir “re-defined the genre. Lunn proved that bestsellers could also be award-winning books of literature.”

Another dozen books followed over the next two decades, including a biography of his childhood friend and Wimbledon and Davis Cup champion Kenny Fletcher, and Working for Rupert, an account of his time working for media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

In recent years, Mr Lunn has continued to experiment with radio and stage.

In 2019, State of Origin: The Musical!, which Mr Lunn co-wrote with comic actor and composer Gerry Connolly, made its debut in Brisbane, telling the story of Arthur Beetson and Senator Ron McAuliffe, the fathers of the State of Origin series.

Across a long and distinguished career, Mr Lunn has received many honours for his work, including an Advance Australia Award in 1994 for his contribution to literature.

Mr Lunn was named a Queensland icon in 2009; he was made a Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015; and he was inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame in 2018.

In recognition of his standing as a well-respected and beloved writer and journalist important to Brisbane, Mr Lunn’s likeness was captured by Rhyl Hinwood in a carved frieze at Wordsmiths Café on the St Lucia campus in 1995.

Chancellor, I present to you Mr Hugh Lunn, Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences, for the award of Doctor of Letters honoris causa, bestowed by the Senate of The University of Queensland.

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