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Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

Part of UK in Australia

27th November 2014

British Literary Societies in Sydney

British literature is alive and flourishing in New South Wales. I hosted the annual reception for the Dylan Thomas Society at the Consul General’s Residence in Sydney on Friday. It is a special year for them as it is the Centenary of the Welsh poet’s birth. There are many events taking place in Wales and elsewhere in the UK.


I felt sufficiently emboldened to try my hand at a pastiche of the opening lines of “Under Milk Wood” or “Under Chats Wood” as I called it after the Sydney suburb. I’m not sure whether they were more appalled by my dodgy Welsh accent, or the weak punning – though I think “Westfield Malls” was a good substitution for “Welfare Halls”. But they were kind enough to pretend to like it. Afterwards the Society’s President, Clive Woosnam, gave a beautiful rendition of Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night”, in a sonorous and totally genuine Welsh accent.

They had invited a number of other Sydney-based Literary Societies to join them for the evening, including representatives of the Austen, Dickens, Bronte and DH Lawrence groups. I hadn’t realised NSW was so well endowed with people who appreciate the qualities of British literature.

Clive described a visit that the group had made to the UK, taking in a number of sites associated with Thomas. This is fertile ground for visitors to the UK, with an increasingly sophisticated suite of tourist itineraries linked to our rich literary traditions. The Visit Britain website has many good suggestions of where to go on literary tours.

About Paul Madden

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017. He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia…

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017.

He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia until February 2015. Prior to this he was British High Commissioner in Singapore from 2007-2011.

A career diplomat, he was previously Managing Director at UK Trade and Investment (2004-2006), responsible for co-ordinating and
implementing international trade development strategies to support
companies across a wide range of business sectors.

As Assistant Director of Information at the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (2003-2004) he was responsible for public diplomacy policy,
including managing the FCO funding of the BBC World Service, the British
Council and the Chevening Scholarships programme. He led the team
responsible for the award-winning UK pavilion at the Aichi Expo in Japan

He was Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore from 2000-2003 and has
also served in Washington (1996-2000) and Tokyo (1988-92). Between
1992-96 he worked on EU enlargement and Environmental issues at the FCO
in London.

Before joining FCO he worked at the Department of Trade and Industry
(1980-87) on a range of industrial sectors and trade policy, including
two years as a minister’s Private Secretary.

He has an MA in Economic Geography from Cambridge University, an MBA
from Durham University, studied Japanese at London University’s School
of Oriental and African Studies, and is a Fellow of the Royal
Geographical Society. His first book, Raffles: Lessons in Business
Leadership, was published in 2003.

Married to Sarah, with three children, he was born in 1959, in Devon.