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Morag Fraser

Morag Fraser

Morag Fraser was Chairperson of ABR and was for many years Editor of Eureka Street. She is currently writing a biography of the poet Peter Porter.

'Baroque Festival: St John Passion: A willing marshalling of human sympathy' by Morag Fraser

ABR Arts 09 April 2024
It is a brave conductor who would hold a packed Hamer Hall audience and a galaxy of musicians and singers in suspension, in raw silence for what felt like long minutes, late in the performative arc of Bach’s St John Passion. No program crackle, no relaxing of shoulder, no shudder of a bow. Breath stifled. Conductor Stephen Layton, until recently Fellow and Director of Music at Trinity College, ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews ‘Mothers of the Mind: The remarkable women who shaped Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie and Sylvia Plath’ by Rachel Trethewey

April 2024, no. 463 25 March 2024
Reading for this review I came across some apposite words by Jacqueline Rose, biographer of Sylvia Plath, cultural analyst and explorer of the lives and roles of women: I have never met a single mother (myself included) who is not far more complex, critical, at odds with the set of clichés she is meant effortlessly to embody, than she is being encouraged – or rather instructed – to th ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Nugget Coombs: A Reforming Life' by Tim Rowse

October 2002, no. 245 01 October 2002
Nugget Coombs never accepted a knighthood. The reason, he told his one-time English teacher, the essayist and academic Sir Walter Murdoch, was that it would be ‘out of character’ for him to do so. There is no shortage of calculated modesty in Australian public life. We cultivate it. Even the most self-absorbed of our sporting heroes can manage a spot of winning self-deprecation. But in Nugget ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Whitefella Jump Up: The shortest way to nationhood (Quarterly Essay 11) by Germaine Greer and ‘Made In England: Australia’s British inheritance (Quarterly Essay 12)’ by David Malouf

December 2003–January 2004, no. 257 01 December 2003
Peter Craven calls up an echo of W.B. Yeats’s ‘The Circus Animals’ Desertion’ at the conclusion of his introduction to Germaine Greer’s highly charged and instantly controversial essay Whitefella Jump Up. ‘It is an essay about sitting down and thinking where all the politics start,’ he writes. Clever, because with that, suddenly, there we all are, caught in one of twentieth-century ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Agamemnon’s Kiss: Selected Essays' and 'The History Question: Who Owns the Past? (Quarterly Essay 23)' by Inga Clendinnen

November 2006, no. 286 01 November 2006
Inga Clendinnen came rather late to Michel de Montaigne, the man she acknowledges as ‘the Father of the Essay’. When the professional historian began reading the great amateur, she did so, Clendinnen admits, ‘in that luxurious mood of piety lace-edged with boredom with which we read the lesser classics’. The boredom quickly dissipated as the writer in Clendinnen met a master: ‘It is hard ... (read more)

Tribute | Morag Fraser on John Button

May 2008, no. 301 01 May 2008
John Button was rare man, rare for any time, any place and in any calling. The public face – the Senator John Button, long-time Leader of the Government in the Senate, the hands-on, hard-hat minister of the Button car plan, the policy innovator and party reformer, the straight talker, unbridled political wit, notorious doodler, note writer, and scribbler of politically incorrect postcards to Sen ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Off Course: From public place to marketplace at Melbourne University' by John Cain and John Hewitt

April 2004, no. 260 01 April 2004
Should the recent turbulent history of one university in one state of Australia matter to us? Some of the critics of Cain and Hewitt’s Off Course think not. Australian higher education has ‘moved on’, they claim. There is no question that the right ‘On Course’ for one-time public entities – from gas companies to universities – is to graduate from public ownership and statutory obliga ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'This is the ABC: The Australian Broadcasting Commission 1932–1983' by Ken Inglis

September 2006, no. 284 01 September 2006
The list of corrigenda at the end of the new edition of This Is the ABC (first published by Melbourne University Press in 1983) underscores the point: insiders, listeners, viewers and politicians have inundated him with corrections and information to refine and expand his already minutely detailed volume one of the history. Listeners plead with him to include the story of the newsreader who announ ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews ‘The Riddle of Father Hackett: A life in Ireland and Australia’ by Brenda Niall

October 2009, no. 315 01 October 2009
Brenda Niall has the knack of lucid multi-focus, a great thing in a biographer. That organisational deftness, an ability to keep the tangled loops of people’s lives spooling freely through her fingers while she projects a rich and dramatic context for them, was evident in her group study of The Boyds (2002), and it is the structural virtue in this new work, The Riddle of Father Hackett. William ... (read more)