John Waller is a science historian at the University of Melbourne, and his new book is a study of the life and times of one Robert Blincoe. Though he is hardly a household name, Blincoe’s career is interesting in that he is the first factory worker in Britain’s Industrial Revolution whose biography can be reconstructed in some detail.
The major problem with this approach to history, as Fitzgerald treads it, is that he takes the preoccupations and perspectives of the twentieth century Sunshine State and implants them in a colonial Queensland context. This achieved, Fitzgerald can point to the continuities of Queensland history. I am reminded of my dog, who buries his bones and considers himself smart when he succeeds in digging them up.