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y separately published work icon Before I Forget : An Early Memoir single work   autobiography  
Issue Details: First known date: 2019... 2019 Before I Forget : An Early Memoir
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Now in his late-eighties, and listed by the National Trust as a ‘Living Treasure’, in Before I Forget Geoffrey Blainey reflects on his humble beginnings as the son of a Methodist Minister and school teacher, one of five children, and a carefree childhood spent in rural Victoria, from Terang to Leongatha, Geelong to Ballarat. From a young age these places ignited for Blainey a great affection for the Australian landscape, and a deep curiosity in Australia’s history. He longed to travel, and would climb atop the roof of their home to stare out at the Great Dividing Range and imagine the world beyond.

His mother created gardens wherever they went and had literary ambitions of her own; his father spent more on books than he could ever afford, and the library travelled with the family. Blainey’s devotion to the Geelong Football Club began in Newtown from where he’d watch his team play at Corio, and as a newsboy he developed an early interest in current affairs, following the dramas and triumphs of the Second World War and the political careers of local identities John Curtin and Robert Menzies. With a burning desire to see Sydney but barely a penny to his name, he hitched there with a schoolfriend to see the harbour that greeted the First Fleet, and visited the national theatre of Parliament House on the way home to see Billy Hughes, JT Lang, Arty Fadden, Arthur Calwell, Enid Lyons and hero Ben Chifley in action.

The course of Blainey’s life changed when he was awarded a scholarship to board at Wesley College in Melbourne – an opportunity that instilled in him a great love of learning, under the tutelage of a group of inspiring teachers. This flourished further at the University of Melbourne, first as a wide-eyed student at Queen’s Collage, where he was lectured by Manning Clarke, and later as a professor of history. Later he and Manning Clarke became great friends, both sitting on the Whitlam Government’s new Literature Board. Hours spent at Melbourne’s State Library as a student poring over the country’s old newspapers cemented his calling to become a professional historian. Like Clarke Blainey has always been compelled to visit the places of our historical interest, including places of archaeological and Indigenous significance. Now the author of over forty books, Geoffrey Blainey claims he has discovered Australia’s history his own way – and is still learning. 

Warm, insightful and lyrically written, Before I Forget recounts the experiences and influences that have shaped the astonishing mind of Australia’s most loved historian. But in this book Blainey has given us something more – a fascinating and affectionate social history in and of itself.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Notes

  • Dedication: To all who taught me.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Hamish Hamilton , 2019 .
      image of person or book cover 8142548948445322649.jpg
      Cover image courtesy of publisher.
      Extent: 352 p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 18 June 2019.

      ISBN: 9781760890339 (hbk), 9781760144920 (ebook)

Other Formats

Works about this Work

Professor Geoffrey Blainey Remembers His First Four Decades Ross Fitzgerald , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Institute Review , July no. 11 2019;

— Review of Before I Forget : An Early Memoir Geoffrey Blainey , 2019 single work autobiography
Starting from Scratch Geordie Williamson , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 20 July 2019; (p. 18)

— Review of Before I Forget : An Early Memoir Geoffrey Blainey , 2019 single work autobiography

'The first instalment of Geoffrey Blainey’s long-awaited autobiography weaves the historian into the historical record, writes Geordie Williamson' 

[Review] Before I Forget : An Early Memoir Clive Moore , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian Journal of Politics and History , September vol. 65 no. 3 2019; (p. 511-512)

— Review of Before I Forget : An Early Memoir Geoffrey Blainey , 2019 single work autobiography

'There is a fascination for any historian in understanding what motivates their colleagues; why they chose a particular topic, and how they organise their research. Blainey is as big as they get: there is a remarkable list of his monograph publications at the beginning of this book, more than forty titles. He has dominated Australian history for decades with his steadfastly narrative, succinct style, and hardly a mention of theory. He also pioneered light referencing: usually his books have no footnotes, merely annotated notes at the back that mention the main sources. He does occasionally use footnotes very sparingly, which is not the way most academic historians operate. His style, perfected over seventy years, relates to his beginnings as a freelance historian of mining and industry.' (Introduction)

Mosaics of Tiny Facts : Early Signs of a Contrarian Historian Brenda Niall , 2019 single work essay
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , September no. 414 2019; (p. 12)

'Unlike an autobiography, which tends to be time-bound and inclusive, the memoir can wander at will in the writer’s past, searching out and shaping an idea of self. Although Geoffrey Blainey’s memoir, Before I Forget, is restricted to the first forty years of his life, its skilfully chosen episodes suggest much more. The memoir shows how Blainey set his own course as a historian and forecasts the brilliant but sometimes unexpected career that he achieved.' (Introduction)

[Review] Before I Forget : An Early Memoir Clive Moore , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian Journal of Politics and History , September vol. 65 no. 3 2019; (p. 511-512)

— Review of Before I Forget : An Early Memoir Geoffrey Blainey , 2019 single work autobiography

'There is a fascination for any historian in understanding what motivates their colleagues; why they chose a particular topic, and how they organise their research. Blainey is as big as they get: there is a remarkable list of his monograph publications at the beginning of this book, more than forty titles. He has dominated Australian history for decades with his steadfastly narrative, succinct style, and hardly a mention of theory. He also pioneered light referencing: usually his books have no footnotes, merely annotated notes at the back that mention the main sources. He does occasionally use footnotes very sparingly, which is not the way most academic historians operate. His style, perfected over seventy years, relates to his beginnings as a freelance historian of mining and industry.' (Introduction)

Starting from Scratch Geordie Williamson , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 20 July 2019; (p. 18)

— Review of Before I Forget : An Early Memoir Geoffrey Blainey , 2019 single work autobiography

'The first instalment of Geoffrey Blainey’s long-awaited autobiography weaves the historian into the historical record, writes Geordie Williamson' 

Professor Geoffrey Blainey Remembers His First Four Decades Ross Fitzgerald , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Institute Review , July no. 11 2019;

— Review of Before I Forget : An Early Memoir Geoffrey Blainey , 2019 single work autobiography
Mosaics of Tiny Facts : Early Signs of a Contrarian Historian Brenda Niall , 2019 single work essay
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , September no. 414 2019; (p. 12)

'Unlike an autobiography, which tends to be time-bound and inclusive, the memoir can wander at will in the writer’s past, searching out and shaping an idea of self. Although Geoffrey Blainey’s memoir, Before I Forget, is restricted to the first forty years of his life, its skilfully chosen episodes suggest much more. The memoir shows how Blainey set his own course as a historian and forecasts the brilliant but sometimes unexpected career that he achieved.' (Introduction)

Last amended 28 Apr 2020 12:02:38
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