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Issue Details: First known date: 2020... no. 4 2020 of Australian Journal of Biography and History est. 2018 Australian Journal of Biography and History
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

A few years ago, in the final throes of completing my doctoral thesis on the former Western Australia Chief Protector of Aborigines and colonial artist Henry Prinsep (1844–1922), I attended the annual Christmas party of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society. Each year Marie Louise Wordsworth, a long-time member, threw open her lush garden overlooking the Swan River at Peppermint Grove and generously allowed her visitors to examine her fine collection of Western Australian art and furniture. Among her possessions were paintings, objects and ephemera from the Prinsep estate that she had purchased on the death of Prinsep’s youngest daughter Emily. She invited me to inspect them and, opening a beautifully made jarrah bureau, there lay my subject’s quills, pens, pencils and paper—and a pair of his wire-framed spectacles. Brazenly perhaps, I could not resist the chance to try them on and just for a moment I was able to see the world through his lens; gazing at his oil painting of karri forest next to the bureau, I realised that he was short-sighted and had what I took to be severe astigmatism. I already knew about the persistent stomach ulcers and respiratory problems that plagued his last years, and from the numerous images of him with cigar in hand, I assumed he would have been accompanied by the stench of tobacco. But I had not realised that he was also beset by poor vision, a burden for one who saw himself primarily as an artist, a calling that far outweighed his dedication to being a colonial civil servant. Such insights, even if seemingly inconsequential to the historical record, can add much to the quality of a biographer’s understanding, as the English historian Kathryn Hughes observed in her 2017 book Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum. She reminds her readers of Thomas Carlyle’s exhortation to remember that the past was populated by living people with a corporeal presence: ‘Not abstractions were they, not diagrams and theorems, but men, in buff or other coats and breeches, with colour in their cheeks, with passion in their stomach, and the idioms, features and vitalities of very men.’ (Malcolm Allbrook, Preface introduction)


  • Contents indexed selectively.


* Contents derived from the 2020 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
In the Days of Print : Four Women Journalists in World War II, Patricia Clarke , single work biography
'Early in 1943 at a critical point in the Pacific campaign in World War II, the Australian Government arranged a tour for selected women journalists to operational bases in eastern Australia stretching from Wagga Wagga and Uranquinty in south-western New South Wales to Cairns and Mareeba in north Queensland. The purpose of the tour was to gain publicity for the women’s services with the aim of increasing enlistments to release servicemen to fight in New Guinea. It was a break from government policy under which women journalists were confined to reporting war activities situated close to the headquarters of the organisations they worked for. But it was still a far cry from accrediting women journalists to report from overseas battlefields, a goal they had long pursued without success.' (Introduction)
(p. 3-28)
Helen Ennis Review of Anne-Louise Willoughby, Nora Heysen : A Portrait, Helen Ennis , single work review
— Review of Nora Heysen : A Portrait Anne-Louise Willoughby , 2019 single work biography ;

'Among the first decisions a biographer must face is where to start the narrative of their subject’s life and how to deal with chronology. Anne-Louise Willoughby chose to begin her biography of Australian artist Nora Heysen with a discussion of Transport driver, one of Heysen’s most celebrated paintings produced during Heysen’s stint as a war artist. Willoughby’s decision was sensible. It enabled her to stress from the outset that art was at the centre of Heysen’s life, and to signal some of her fundamental concerns. The aircraftwoman Heysen depicted is ‘a professional … strong, authoritative’, all of which applies to the artist herself. Willoughby’s biography celebrates Heysen’s considerable achievements, but it was also conceived as part of a larger project of restitution that redresses ‘the historical biases that have shadowed women’s contributions, in particular to Australian art’. The book adds to a slowly growing corpus of biographies of women artists; Jo Oliver’s Jessie Traill: A Biography, published in February 2020, is the most recent. In addition, it relates to institutional initiatives such as the National Gallery of Australia’s Know My Name exhibition (2020–21), which showcased the work of Australian women artists.' (Introduction)

(p. 169-174)
Karen Fox Review of Lainie Anderson, Long Flight Home; Ann Blainey, King of the Air; and Sir Ross Smith, Flight to Fame, Karen Fox , single work review
— Review of Long Flight Home Lainie Anderson , 2019 single work novel ; King of the Air : The Turbulent Life of Charles Kingsford Smith Ann Blainey , 2018 single work biography ; Flight to Fame : Victory in the 1919 Great Air Race, England to Australia Ross Smith , 2019 single work autobiography ;

'At 2:06 pm on 10 December 1919, Keith and Ross Smith, along with the air mechanics James Bennett and Wally Shiers, spied the coast of Australia, the end point of a long flight from England that had begun almost 28 days prior. A common experience for many a weary traveller today, the first sight of the coastline solidifying into view on the horizon was for these 4 men both a triumph and a relief. Landing their Vickers Vimy twin-engine bomber in Darwin less than an hour later, they were met by the administrator of the Northern Territory and the mayor of Darwin, and swarmed by an enthusiastic crowd, excited to meet the men who had just completed the first-ever flight from England to Australia. When they had left England, not quite a month ago, they had been one crew among 6 to enter the ‘great air race’ sponsored by the government of the Commonwealth of Australia; today they were the winners of the £10,000 prize, and had ensured their place in history as the first men to fly from England to Australia. Of their competitors, only one other team would arrive safely in Darwin, and 4 men were killed, 2 only moments after taking off from Hounslow to begin their journey.' (Introduction)

(p. 175-180)
Peter Love Review of Carolyn Rasmussen, The Blackburns : Private Lives, Public Ambition, Peter Love , single work review
— Review of The Blackburns : Private Lives, Public Ambitions Carolyn Rasmussen , 2019 single work biography ;
'The logo of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers declares ‘We Fight for Fair’. It might also have been a good family motto for the firm’s founder Maurice Blackburn and his activist wife Doris. They formed a particularly interesting idealist political partnership.' (Introduction)
(p. 181-186)
Stuart Macintyre Review of Geoffrey Blainey, Before I Forget : An Early Memoir, Stuart Macintyre , single work review

'Most historians’ memoirs bear the mark of their authors’ calling. They relate their own lives with an unusual precision, giving full details of antecedents, for example, and are attentive to chronology and context. Historians use this scaffolding to make sense of their lived experience, so that a disciplinary understanding of the past directs and supplements memory. In looking back on their lives, moreover, they are concerned to explain how it was that they found their vocation. This can involve the identification of formative influences, teachers, interests and opportunities that shaped their careers. It can also impart a teleological cast, the life following a predetermined path.' (Introduction)

(p. 187-192)
Granville Allen Mawer Review of Hugh Crago, All We Need to Know : A Family in Time, Granville Allen Mawer , single work review
— Review of All We Need to Know : A Family in Time Hugh Crago , 2019 single work autobiography ;
(p. 193-198)
Fred Myers Review of Alec B. O’Halloran, The Master from Marnpi: Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Pintupi Man, Papunya Tula Artist, Fred Myers , single work review
— Review of The Master From Marnpi Alec O'Halloran , 2018 single work biography ;

'Alec O’Halloran’s The Master from Marnpi has my mind jumping in many directions. It is a beautiful volume, a biography of the Pintupi man Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, self-produced, with extensive visual images. It is not published through a scholarly press, but it is an exemplary work of scholarship, of sourcing and citation, and it will not only be a fundamental piece of work for those interested in Indigenous Australian art but also, in my view, for many others with curiosity and interest in Indigenous life and history.' (Introduction)

(p. 199-204)
Heather Roberts Review of Hilary Heilbron, Rose Heilbron; Evan Thomas, First; Pamela Burton, From Moree to Mabo; and Constance Backhouse, Claire L’Heureux-Dubé, Heather Roberts , single work review
— Review of From Moree to Mabo : The Biography of Mary Gaudron Pamela Burton , 2010 single work biography ;
(p. 223-228)
Cheryl Ware Review of Dennis Altman, Unrequited Love : Diary of an Accidental Activist, Cheryl Ware , single work review
— Review of Unrequited Love : Diary of an Accidental Activist Dennis Altman , 2019 single work autobiography ;

'The late twentieth century witnessed significant transformations in the social lives and political statuses of gay men and lesbians. From the late 1960s, the international gay and lesbian liberation movements propelled discussions about sex and sexuality into the public arena as individuals demonstrated against discriminatory legislation and police harassment, and declared pride in their sexualities. It was during this period that 21-year-old Dennis Altman—who had recently left Hobart for New York as a ‘shy and naïve graduate student’ (p. 3)—became an ‘accidental activist’ by writing about the burgeoning gay liberation movement.' (Introduction)

(p. 229-234)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 7 Apr 2021 10:05:15
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