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Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews (1936–2022) was the author of short stories, essays, and biographies. His memoir A Fine and Private Place (2000) won the inaugural Queensland Premier’s Award for non-fiction and his Manning Clark: A Life (2008) won the National Biography Award in 2010.

Brian Matthews reviews ‘Immortals: Football people and the evolution of Australian rules’ by Lionel Frost and ‘Keeping the Faith: Collingwood … the pleasure, the pain, the whole damned thing’ by Steve Strevens

August 2005, no. 273 01 August 2005
Albert Thurgood, whose first season playing for Essendon in 1892 was described by the Leader as ‘in every way phenomenal’, was simply the ‘Brighton junior Thurgood’ when Essendon selected him for the first game of that season, though his all-round athletic prowess at Brighton Grammar School had already marked him as a possible ‘prize’ recruit. Though St Kilda was his nearest club, and ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears: Australia’s WWII remembered by the men and women who lived it.’ by Margaret Geddes

April 2005, no. 270 01 April 2005
In Margaret Geddes’s own words, Blood, Sweat and Tears ‘is a book of memories and feelings, not facts and dates’. As a result, she is able to avoid the structural, stylistic and other ramifications of historical and chronological accuracy. Instead, she is interested more in the quality and reverberations of their recollections and their reconstruction of events that are ‘with them still’ ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews ‘My Spin On Cricket’ by Richie Benaud and ‘Out Of My Comfort Zone: The autobiography’ by Steve Waugh

February 2006, no. 278 01 February 2006
Like most professional sports men and women, Steve Waugh and his brother Mark were supported enthusiastically from the start by their parents. To begin with, enthusiasm was about all that Bev and Roger Waugh brought to the cricketing aspirations of their twin sons, with the result that their ‘very first official game of cricket [for Panania-East Hills Under 10s] was in many ways a disaster’. M ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews ‘Drawing The Crow’ by Adrian Mitchell

June-July 2006, no. 282 01 June 2006
I had never been to Adelaide in my life when I arrived for an interview that, as it turned out, would result in my spending the next twenty-five years in South Australia. The early November heat was too much for my Melbourne best suit, and I was carrying my coat when I walked gratefully into a city pub for a post-interview beer. In the bar – air conditioned down to a level threatening patrons wi ... (read more)

'A Lawson for our times' by Brian Matthews

May 2009, no. 311 01 May 2009
It is exhilarating and always illuminating to return to Henry Lawson. His is a body of work – slim and fragile though it may be – with which many would confidently claim to be particularly familiar. ‘The Drover’s Wife’, ‘The Union Buries Its Dead’, ‘The Loaded Dog’ and many others are a part of our literary and cultural reference. Yet Lawson’s fiction is so deceptive, seemingly ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'Struggle and Storm' by Meg Tasker

July 2001, no. 232 01 July 2001
I first encountered Francis Adams when various sharp or mordant observations from his The Australians kept cropping up in my reading about Henry Lawson and his times. For one thing, Adams’s widow, Edith (though there is apparently doubt about their marital status), invited Lawson and his wife, Bertha, to stay with her in the village of Harpenden while they looked for accommodation. Lawson duly r ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'National Treasure' by Michael Wilding

July–August 2007, no. 293 26 August 2022
I was thinking a while back about some of the ways novels begin; not just the famous ones – ‘Happy families are alike’ etc, ‘Call me Ishmael’, ‘Unemployed at last’ – but also some contemporary examples. If I had read Michael Wilding’s National Treasure at that time, I would have conscripted it immediately: ‘Plant slipped down lower in his car seat as the man down the street was ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'General Peter Cosgrove: My Story' by Peter Cosgrove and 'Cosgrove: Portrait of a Leader' by Patrick Lindsay

February 2007, no. 288 01 February 2007
George Orwell begins Homage to Catalonia with a description of an Italian militiaman whom he encounters briefly at the Lenin Barracks in Barcelona as he is about to join up. He was a rough looking youth of twenty-five or six, with reddish yellow hair and powerful shoulders … Something in his face deeply moved me … I hardly know why, but I have seldom seen anyone – any man I mean – to wh ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'The First Voice of Australian Feminism: Excerpts from Louisa Lawson’s "The Dawn" 1888–1895' by Olive Lawson

April 1990, no. 119 01 April 1990
Louisa Lawson’s journal, The Dawn, probably wasn’t as politically influential as we would like to think, despite reliable evidence of a substantial subscription list and a fairly far-flung readership. Its championing of major issues of the day such as Female Suffrage and Marriage and Divorce law reform was relentless, unswervingly logical, and resounding, but the momentum which would bring vic ... (read more)
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