Capital: Melbourne when it was the capital city of Australia 1901–1927
Text Publishing, $39.95 pb, 388 pp
Academic historians only took to urban history in any systematic way during the 1970s, but Melbourne, regardless of what historians might have had to say about it, has always had a strong sense of its own identity and culture. In the heyday of 1880s ‘Marvellous Melbourne’, journalist Richard Twopeny saw the city as representing ‘the fullest development of Australian civilisation, whether in commerce or education, in wealth or intellect, in manners and customs – in short, in every department of life’. English historian J.A. Froude, staying in style as a guest at Government House, saw Melbourne people as having ‘boundless wealth, and as bound-less ambition and self-confidence’; they were ‘proud of themselves and of what they have done’.