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Jim Davidson Jim Davidson i(A4416 works by) (a.k.a. James Hector Davidson)
Born: Established: 1942 ;
Gender: Male
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BiographyHistory

After receiving a BA (Hons) from Melbourne University, Jim Davidson continued his studies at Rhodes University, completing an MA thesis on Anthony Trollope's South Africa. While working in London, he was offered the position of editor of Meanjin. After a tense period of transition with Clem Christesen, Davidson was officially instated as editor in 1975, continuing in that position until 1982.

Davidson has taught for many years at Victoria University (formerly Footscray University of Technology). He completed his PhD thesis at Melbourne University on the philanthropist and music publisher Louise Hanson-Dyer in 1992 and has also been opera critic for the Age. His work on Hanson-Dyer was published in book form in 1994. His most recent book (with Peter Spearritt) is Holiday Business: Tourism in Australia since 1870 (2000).

Most Referenced Works

Personal Awards

2012 Australia Council Literature Board Grants Grants for Developing Writers $40,000 for non-fiction.
2012 Order of Australia Member of the Order of Australia (AM) For service to literature as an editor and cultural commentator, and to education as an historical researcher and biographer.
2011 recipient Redmond Barry Fellowship for 

Bigger than little: literary magazine culture in Melbourne between 1940 and 1988

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon A Three-Cornered Life : The Historian W. K. Hancock Sydney : University of New South Wales Press , 2010 Z1704878 2010 single work biography 'While W.K. Hancock may no longer be described as 'Australia's most distinguished historian', he has some enduring claims to our attention. No other Australian historian - and few elsewhere - can match his 'span', to use one of his watchwords. Hancock was a major historian in four or five fields, who himself made history by going on a mission to Uganda for the British government in 1954 to mediate the future of Buganda after its ruler had been exiled. He was also, from a room in the Cabinet Office in Whitehall, the editor of a vast historical project: the writing of a series of accounts of British mobilisation on the home front during the Second World War. In addition, Hancock was a founder of the Australian National University, while his Australia (1930) remains one of the classic accounts of this country' (Publishers website).
2012 shortlisted Festival Awards for Literature (SA) Award for Non-Fiction
2011 joint winner Ernest Scott Prize Joint winner with Emma Christopher's A Merciless Place: The Lost Story of Britain's Convict Disaster in Africa and How It Led to the Settlement of Australia.
2011 shortlisted New South Wales Premier's History Prize Australian History Prize
2011 winner The Age Book of the Year Award Non-Fiction Prize
2010-2011 joint winner Prime Minister's Literary Awards The Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History Joint winner with Peter Stanley's Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny and Murder in the Great War.
2010 shortlisted Colin Roderick Award
2010 winner Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Non-Fiction
y separately published work icon Lyrebird Rising : Louise Hanson-Dyer of Oiseau-Lyre, 1884-1962 Carlton : Melbourne University Press , 1994 Z1179836 1994 single work biography 'Lyrebird Rising re-creates the ambience of Melbourne in the twenties, Paris in the thirties, and London in the fifties; it also discusses expatriatism, explores the paths open to a dynamic woman at the time, and examines the changes in musical taste that were set in motion by the rise of musicology, radio, and the gramophone record.' (Libraries Australia summary)
1995 shortlisted NBC Banjo Awards NBC Banjo Award for Non-Fiction
y separately published work icon Meanjin Meanjin Papers; Meanjin Quarterly 1940 Brisbane : Meanjin Press , 1940-1944 Z838453 1940 periodical (319 issues)

The first issue of Meanjin was published at Brisbane in 1940, containing the poems of Clem Christesen, James Picot, Brian Vrepont and Paul Grano. Christesen was the founding editor and remained in that position until 1974, attempting to produce a 'journal of ideas, built around books, to encourage free expression and intelligent criticism, to put forward "advance guard" material, develop contacts abroad--a Literary Lend-lease'. To this end, Christesen attracted a diverse group of writers from Australia and overseas. In the 1940s Australian writers included poets such as Harold Stewart, Harry Hooton, Peter Hopegood, Max Harris, Rex Ingamells, Hugh McCrae and R. D. FitzGerald ; critics such as Vance and Nettie Palmer, A. R. Chisholm and R. G. Howarth; fiction writers such as Xavier Herbert and Katharine Susannah Prichard; and a variety of other commentators such as Norman Bartlett, Lloyd Ross, Brian Fitzpatrick and Manning Clark. Overseas writers whose work appeared in Meanjin included Anais Nin, Arthur Koestler and Jean-Paul Sartre. Accompanying the work of these writers were sketches, designs and woodcuts from a number of visual artists, including Margaret Preston, Frank Medworth, Noel Counihan and Roy Dalgarno.

Following an offer by Melbourne University to publish and manage the magazine, Christesen and his wife, Nina, moved to Melbourne in February 1945. Despite the financial security and institutional support, circulation dropped during the next twelve months. Christesen was forced to seek sponsorship from other sources to supplement the contribution from the university. By the late 1940s the distinct business connection with the university had ended but infrastructure was still provided, maintaining Meanjin 's institutional home.

With the onset of the Cold War, Communist Party sympathisers were being increasingly targetted and Meanjin was no exception. The Christesens were regularly under surveillance and were implicated in the Petrov Affair in 1955. But despite this adverse attention (threatening the approval of literary grants) and the destruction of many friendships, the circulation of Meanjin remained strong throughout the 1950s. In the late 1950s and 1960s, Christesen continued to attract the work of some of Australia's best writers and intellectuals, building a strong group of regular contributors, including A. D. Hope, A. A. Phillips, Judith Wright, Jack Lindsay, John Morrison, Robert D. FitzGerald, James K Baxter and David Martin. Meanjin also contributed to discussion on the visual arts with regular contributions from Allan McCulloch, Ursula Hoff and Bernard Smith. In addition, Several important series were produced in the 1960s with titles such as 'Australian Heritage', 'Godzone', 'Pacific Signposts', and 'The Temperament of Generations'. But with the growth of a new generation in a rapidly changing culture, and Christesen's flagging energy, Meanjin began to lose the distinctive tone that its long-time editor had fostered. The future of the magazine became a concern.

The historian Jim Davidson had been acting as editor for some time before he was officially instated in 1975. During his eight-year term Davidson attempted to attract a new generation of readers to Meanjin, with special issues on Papua and New Guinea, Women and the Arts, and Aboriginal culture. Davidson also introduced interviews in a new format that brought the first change in size to Meanjin since 1951. In the first issue of 1982 Judith Brett was acknowledged as Associate Editor, taking over from Davidson in the next issue. Like Davidson, Brett responded to changes in Australian culture, extending the discussion of women writers begun in the late 1970s and introducing a focus on migrant writers. Throughout this period Meanjin continued to print the works of many of Australia's best creative writers. Contributors during this period included Bruce Dawe, John Tranter, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Tom Shapcott, Jennifer Maiden, Les Murray, Patrick White, Frank Moorhouse, Morris Lurie, Laurie Clancy and Michael Wilding. In addition to established writers Meanjin also published the work of new writers, including Tim Winton, Nicholas Jose, Marion Halligan and Garry Disher.

Throughout the 1990s Meanjin went through several changes to format and faced a number of financial challenges. Jenny Lee's term as editor brought a more academic tone to the magazine and introduced regular thematic issues (but this has not always pre-determined the selection of creative writing). Many issues focused on cultural studies, postmodernism, postcolonialism and the state of the humanities. Other issues explored landscape, music, women's knowledge, Aboriginal issues and the Pacific region.

When Christina Thompson became editor in 1994, she brought another shift in tone, suggesting that Meanjin had become too academic, and pushed for a greater clarity in the contributions. Issues explored during Thompson's term included Canadian studies, corporatisation, suburban life, the Pacific region and queer studies. In the mid 1990s Meanjin faced severe financial setback when regular government funding was significantly reduced. Despite seeking outside funding, the diminished budget had an immediate effect. With inadequate funds to support productions costs, only three issues were produced in 1997. Thompson also experienced strong opposition from some Meanjin board members and did not seek reappointment.

In 1998 Melbourne University bought Meanjin to avoid its closure, imposing stronger control of the magazine's business dealings. Stephanie Holt, with a background in visual arts journalism, was appointed editor. During Holt's term, Meanjin explored issues on travel, crime, reconciliation, and revisited the idea of the cultural cringe. Former editor, Jim Davidson, later remarked that Holt had made Meanjin 'absolutely contemporary again'. But Holt faced some opposition at the end of her term and was controversially replaced by historian Ian Britain in 2001, causing several board members to resign in protest. Britain has since produced themed issues on museums, life writing, drugs and food.

2020 recipient The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund $60,000 over three years
Last amended 8 Oct 2019 16:23:15
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