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Rhys Llywelyn Isaac Edit Profile

educator , historian

Rhys Llywelyn Isaac was a Pulitzer Prize-winning South African-born Australian historian of American history who also worked in the United States.


Isaac, Rhys Llywelyn was born on November 20, 1937 in Cape Town, Republic South Africa. Arrived in Australia, 1963. Son of William Edwyn and Frances Margaret (Leighton) Isaac.


Bachelor, University Cape Town, 1958. Master of Arts, University Oxford, England, 1965. Bachelor, Oxon University, 1962.


Isaac earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Cape Town. In 1959 he was the Cape Province Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College (Oxford), earning his Ph.D. in 1962. In 1963 Isaac emigrated to Australia, where he taught at the University of Melbourne, and later at La Trobe University (1971–91), where he was Emeritus Professor of American History.

In 1975 he was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Early American History at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Isaac died at his home in Blairgowrie, Victoria, Australia, on 6 October 2010, aged 72, from undisclosed causes.


  • Isaac won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790 (1982), becoming the first and only Australian historian to win a Pulitzer Prize.



In 2004 Isaac published Landon Carter's Uneasy Kingdom: Revolution and Rebellion on a Virginia Plantation, which made use of the exemplary diary of a Virginian landholder and member of the House of Burgesses.


Married Colleen Margaret Malherbe, December 29, 1962. Children: Megan Frances, Lyned Vivienne.

William Edwyn Isaac

Frances Margaret (Leighton) Isaac

Colleen Margaret Malherbe

Megan Frances Isaac

Lyned Vivienne Isaac