A major focus of her critical writing has been the works of Henry Handel Richardson. She also edited the Oxford History of Australian Literature (1981). Dame Leonie was the first female Professor of English in Australia.
Dame Leonie Kramer has served on numerous public bodies during her long career. These include appointment to the Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1982-83), having served as a member of the ABC Board since 1977, the Secondary Schools Board (1976-82), the Council of the National Library (1975-81), NAATI (1977-81) and the Universities Council (1977-86). Other appointments include serving as a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs (1988-96), Commissioner of the NSW Electricity Commission (1988-95) and Chairman of the Board of Directors of NIDA (1987-92). She has also served on the boards of large corporations including Western Mining Corporation and ANZ Banking Group.
In 1986 she received the Inaugural Britannica Award for the ‘dissemination of learning for the benefit of mankind’. Other awards include an honorary DLitt from the University of Tasmania, and honorary LLDs from both the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University.
She was appointed on Officer (OBE) of the Order of the British Empire in 1976. In 1983, she was made a Dame Commander (DBE) of the order. The Queen honoured Dame Leonie again in 1990 by making her a Companion of the Order of Australia.
Dame Leonie Kramer was Deputy Chancellor of the University of Sydney from 1989-91 and Chancellor from 1991-2001. At the request of the Parliament and a hostile University Senate, the Governor of New South Wales empowered the Senate to dismiss the Chancellor of Sydney University in 2001. Dame Leonie retired moments before a controversial Senate meeting was to take place to dismiss her.