Recipient of 2022 Medal for Excellence in Translation announced

To mark the UN’s International Translation Day, the Australian Academy of the Humanities has awarded the 2022 Medal for Excellence in Translation to Robert Savage.

Robert Savage is a translator who teaches at Ivanhoe Grammar School in Melbourne. His translation of Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger’s monumental biography of eighteenth-century Habsburg empress, Maria Theresa: The Habsburg Empress in Her Time, was released in 2022 and hailed in the Literary Review as “elegant” and “of page-turning readability”.

Robert Savage has acquired a reputation as an eminent translator of important non-fiction works written in German, with the Medal awarded for his translation of the major biography of the Habsburg Empress, Maria Theresa, by one of Germany’s leading historians, Barbara Stollberg-Rillinger.

Chair of the judging panel, Professor Brian Nelson FAHA, praised Robert’s extraordinary achievements:

Robert Savage has acquired a distinguished reputation as a translator of important non-fiction works written in German. In a general sense, he succeeds in producing a translation that is crisp, clear and extremely readable. The reader is allowed to forget that they are reading a translation. In a particular sense, Savage meets brilliantly the challenges of style and register posed by the fact that the author quotes extensively from primary sources written in the courtly German of the Habsburg era. Robert’s translation of Maria Theresa is a sophisticated yet accessible work and successfully complements the powerful prose for which Stollberg-Rilinger is known.

On receiving the Medal, Robert said:

I’m deeply grateful to receive the 2022 Medal for Excellence in Translation. With this award, the Academy not only recognises my work as a translator but the importance of translation to a thriving, globally connected culture. “Translators are the post-horses of enlightenment”, Pushkin once said. Today, perhaps, we are more like travel agents for those languishing in monolingual lockdown: we make it possible for readers to make trips to destinations they could otherwise never have visited. There are few more rewarding jobs.

Academy President, Emeritus Professor Lesley Head, commended Robert on his well-deserved award.

Robert Savage represents the very best of Australia’s translators, and the award of the 2022 Medal for Excellence in Translation recognises his exceptional contributions to the field. The calibre of candidates this year was particularly high, and I congratulate those shortlisted for the award: Associate Professor McComas Taylor, and Alex Skovran and Josef Tomáš, on their nominations.


Communications Coordinator
Laura Campbell / 0432 627 261

About the Medal

The Medal for Excellence in Translation is a major national award that recognises outstanding translation achievements and celebrates the vital role of translators and translation in Australian culture and scholarly discourse.

The Medal was established with the generous support of the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, Monash University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Western Australia.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.