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Sir Francis Villeneuve Smith is the last in Dr Bennett’s remarkable 19th century series Lives of Australian Chief Justices.

The seventeenth volume, co-authored with Dr Solomon, continues a project John Michael Bennett began as a Senior Research Fellow in Law at the Australian National University over 40 years ago. He is the sole author of sixteen volumes in the series.

His (19th century) Lives of the Australian Chief Justices has been described by Australian Historical Studies as a series that adds “an important missing dimension in the field of legal history in Australia [and makes] engaging reading”. It reflects Dr Bennett’s fastidious research coupled with his long experience in professional law practice and in various academic positions.

His extensive publications, chiefly in Legal History, but also as a law reporter and sometime Editor-in-Chief of The Australian Digest, have received much recognition and praise. He was twice awarded the C H Currey Memorial Fellowship by the State Library of New South Wales; was a Churchill Fellow in 2000; and received the New South Wales History Fellowship 2006 for his biography of Sir Alfred Stephen, Third Chief Justice of New South Wales.

On examination of published works, he has received the rare degrees of Doctor of Laws (Sydney) and Doctor of Letters (ANU); and he is an Honorary Doctor of Letters (Sydney). A Life Member of The New South Wales Bar Association, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2005 for services to the law.

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