Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews is the author of short stories, essays, and biographies. He was a weekly columnist for the Weekend Australian Magazine (1997–2001) and has been a monthly columnist for Eureka Street since 1997. 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 'General Peter Cosgrove: My Story' by Peter Cosgrove and 'Cosgrove: Portrait of a Leader' by Patrick Lindsay

February 2007, no. 288 01 February 2007
Brian Matthews reviews 'General Peter Cosgrove: My Story' by Peter Cosgrove and 'Cosgrove: Portrait of a Leader' by Patrick Lindsay
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
Brian Matthews reviews 'The First Voice of Australian Feminism: Excerpts from Louisa Lawson’s "The Dawn" 1888–1895' by Olive Lawson
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)

'What Dymphna Knew: Manning Clark and Kristallnacht' by Brian Matthews

May 2007, no. 291 01 May 2007
Dymphna and Manning Clark, 1984 (Photo by Alec Bolton, NLA)
Mark McKenna’s analysis of Manning Clark’s Kristallnacht episode (The Monthly, March 2007) – in which he shows that Clark was not in Bonn on Kristallnacht, that he arrived a couple of weeks later, but that in ensuing years he appropriated his fiancée Dymphna’s experience and account and made it his own without any attribution – may be further illuminated, given another dimension, if we ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'Cricket Kings' by William McInnes

October 2006, no. 285 01 October 2006
Brian Matthews reviews 'Cricket Kings' by William McInnes
It was the first game for the season in some halcyon year of my cricketing past. We’d scraped together a team, but the other mob was rumoured to be a couple short. Their first three batsmen were competent enough and made a few. Then a collapse brought number eight to the wicket. Impeccably clad, he was one of those blokes who puts his gloves on after taking guard and then spends minutes surveyin ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'Cutting Green Hay: Friendships, movements and cultural conflicts in Australia's great decades' by Vincent Buckley

August 1983, no. 53 01 August 1983
Brian Matthews reviews 'Cutting Green Hay: Friendships, movements and cultural conflicts in Australia's great decades' by Vincent Buckley
On his first day at St Patrick’s, East Melbourne, Vincent Buckley was ‘flogged and flogged’ by a Jesuit priest in ‘an incompetent fury’. It is an experience that many of his readers will easily recognise, though their remembered lambastings were more likely to have been incurred at the hands of the Brothers and, unlike Buckley’s, would have been a continuing feature of school life. It ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'West Island: Five twentieth-century New Zealanders in Australia' by Stephanie Johnson

December 2019, no. 417 25 November 2019
Brian Matthews reviews 'West Island: Five twentieth-century New Zealanders in Australia' by Stephanie Johnson
Australians and New Zealanders know it as the Tasman Sea or more familiarly The Ditch: for Māori, Te Tai o-Rēhua. Significant islands in this stretch of water are Lord Howe and Norfolk. As seen from New Zealand, the island most Australians probably don’t know offhand and, when they are told about it, might feel inclined to reject its name as, well, cheeky: it’s West Island – Australia in s ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'Gould’s Book of Fish: A novel in twelve fish' by Richard Flanagan

October 2001, no. 235 01 October 2001
Brian Matthews reviews 'Gould’s Book of Fish: A novel in twelve fish' by Richard Flanagan
‘ … these days I am no longer sure what is memory and what is revelation. How faithful the story you are about to read is to the original is a bone of contention with the few people I had allowed to read the original Book of Fish … certainly, the book you will read is the same as the book I remember reading, and I have tried to be true both to the wonder of that reading and to the extraord ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'Half the Perfect World: Writers, dreamers and drifters on Hydra, 1955–1964' by Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell

November 2018, no. 406 25 October 2018
Brian Matthews reviews 'Half the Perfect World: Writers, dreamers and drifters on Hydra, 1955–1964' by Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell
In August 1964, Charmian Clift returned to Australia from the Greek island of Hydra after nearly fourteen years abroad. As Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell portray her return – a description based, as always in this book, on solid or at least reasonably persuasive evidence – she ‘was leaving her beloved Hydra forever, with the pain of her departure sharpened by the sting of humiliation and exi ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'Antipodean Perspective: Selected Writings of Bernard Smith' edited by Rex Butler and Sheridan Palmer

October 2018, no. 405 26 September 2018
Brian Matthews reviews 'Antipodean Perspective: Selected Writings of Bernard Smith' edited by Rex Butler and Sheridan Palmer
The editors begin their introduction to Antipodean Perspective with some ground clearing: ‘The putting together of a series of responses to an important scholar’s work is a classic academic exercise. It is undoubtedly a worthy, but also necessarily a selective undertaking. In German it is called a Festschrift …’ The Festschrift continues to be, in academic circles especially, a way of hono ... (read more)
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