Don Watson is one of Australia's most distinguished writers and public speakers. He grew up on a farm in Gippsland, took his undergraduate degree at La Trobe University and a Ph.D at Monash and was for ten years an academic historian. He wrote three books on Australian history before turning his hand to TV and the stage. For several years he combined writing political satire for the actor Max Gillies with political speeches for the Victorian Premier John Cain. He became Paul Keating's speech-writer and adviser and his best-selling account of those years, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime Minister, won the Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Prizes, the Brisbane Courier Mail Book of the Year, the National Biography Award and the Australian Literary Studies Association's Book of the Year. In addition to regular books, articles and essays, in recent years he has also written feature films, including The Man Who Sued God, starring Billy Connolly and Judy Davis.
In his Quarterly Essay Rabbit Syndrome: Australia and America won the inaugural Alfred Deakin Essay Prize in the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards. Death Sentence, his book about the decay of public language, was also a best seller and won the Australian Booksellers Association Book of the Year. It was published in the UK and the US. Watson published the Dictionary of Weasel Words and more recently Don contributed the preface to a selection of Mark Twain's writing's, The Wayward Tourist.
His acclaimed book American Journeys is a narrative of modern America from Watson's travels in the United States post-Hurricane Katrina. Travelling the railways and highways, he writes about religion, race, class, places, politics and people; the noble dreams and confounding paradoxes of the world's greatest democracy and superpower. American Journeys was published and won The Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Book of the Year, the inaugural Indie Award for Non-Fiction and the Walkley Non-Fiction Award. Don was awarded the Phillip Hodgins Memorial Medal for Australian Literature.
Don's most recent book is the hilariously funny Bendable Learnings, a successor to Death Sentence and Weasel Words. His website has unearthed many more examples of the downfall of modern language.
Don is currently at work on The Book of the Bush for Penguin, and he writes for The Monthly and The Age.
In keynote speeches, after dinner monologues, public lectures, seminars and workshops, Don's witty and provocative views on language and writing, the United States and Australian culture, politics and history have entertained audiences of corporate conferences, public servants, teachers, advertisers, PR firms, film-makers, political parties, academics and local government organisations.