Biography

Sheridan Palmer reviews The Boy from Brunswick: Leonard French, A biography by Reg MacDonald

Sheridan Palmer
22 February 2019

Old friendships and close collaborations between author and subject can be either a blessing or a curse in biography – a tightrope between discretionary tact and open fire. Both call for intimate but balanced subjec More

Peter Rose reviews 'A Certain Style: Beatrice Davis: A Literary Life' by Jacqueline Kent

Peter Rose
31 August 2018

In September 2018, NewSouth published a new edition of A Certain Style.

On a chilly evening in 1980, a stylish woman in her early seventies, wheezing slightly from a lifetime’s cigarettes, climbed a staircase just beneath the Harbour Bridge, entered a room full of book editors – young women mostly, university-educated, making their way ... More

Geoffrey Blainey reviews 'Pompey Elliott at War: In his own words' by Ross McMullin

Geoffrey Blainey
26 July 2018

General ‘Pompey’ Elliott was a famous Australian in 1918, half forgotten seventy years later, and is now a national military hero. This Anzac Day he stood high. On French soil he was p More

Geordie Williamson reviews 'In Search of Mary Shelley: The girl who wrote Frankenstein' by Fiona Sampson

Geordie Williamson
26 July 2018

A healthy suspicion should surround books that arrive neatly on some commemorative due date – in this case, the bicentenary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It is not that biog More

Geoffrey Blainey reviews 'Three Duties and Talleyrand’s Dictum: Keith Waller: Portrait of a working diplomat' by Alan Fewster

Geoffrey Blainey
26 March 2018

Keith Waller was one of the top ambassadors in a period when Australia urgently needed them. During the Cold War, he served in Moscow and then Washington, where a skilled resident diplomat More

David Rolph reviews 'Ma’am Darling: Ninety-nine glimpses of Princess Margaret' by Craig Brown

David Rolph
02 March 2018

My earliest memory of Princess Margaret is flicking through my grandmother’s copy of 'The Australian Women’s Weekly' and seeing photographs of a middle-aged woman, in huge sunglasses a More

Brian McFarlane reviews 'Anthony Powell: Dancing to the music of time' by Hilary Spurling

Brian McFarlane
21 December 2017

Readers of this review are warned that they are in the presence of an addict. Having read Anthony Powell’s monumental twelve-volume Dance to the Music of Time three times, I had More

John Rickard reviews 'The Enigmatic Mr Deakin' by Judith Brett

John Rickard
23 August 2017

There has been an argument going on in the Liberal Party about the nature of the Menzies heritage – was Robert Menzies, the founder of the modern party, a liberal or a conservative? Notably absent from this discussion has been the national figure who was the first leader of a united anti-Labor party and who also happens to have been a father of Federation, Alfred ... More

Diana Glenn reviews 'Claretta: Mussolini’s last lover' by R.J.B. Bosworth

Diana Glenn
31 May 2017

This fascinating volume on the fate of Clara (Claretta) Petacci, mistress to Benito Mussolini, by distinguished historian R.J.B. Bosworth, is a meticulously researched and multi-layered account tracing the fateful relationship between the fascist dictator and his younger paramour. From the genesis of the affair to its well-known aftermath, Bosworth enlivens our unde ... More

Paul Giles reviews 'The Glamour of Strangeness: Artists and the lost age of the exotics' by Jamie James

Paul Giles
30 April 2017

Described in one of the blurbs on its back cover as ‘a cabinet of wonders for lovers of faraway countries,’ Jamie James’s The Glamour of Strangeness is unusual in terms of the wide variety of the material it covers. James focuses here on artists who left their homelands ‘to create a new self in a new place’, arguing that the ‘exotic’ aesthetic ... More

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