In his brief preface to Volume 1 of the Australian Dictionary of Biography 1788–1850 A–H (1966), Douglas Pike describes the ‘all-Australian, Commonwealth-wide … consultation and co-operation’ underpinning the volume and notes that the breadth and complexity of its intellectual network meant the Dictionary could ‘truly be called a national project’. Five decades later, in an informative, elegant introduction to Volume 18, the present general editor, Melanie Nolan, endorses Pike’s pioneering claim for the ADB, describing it as ‘a national collaborative project, the largest and longest running of its kind in the social sciences and humanities in Australia’. As such – ‘a reference work for many purposes’ – it is familiar territory to historians, researchers, biographers, film-makers, novelists, and any number of browsing general readers.
‘All the far-fetched greatness’
Discrete narratives in the ADB
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18: 1981–1990 (L–Z)
edited by Melanie Nolan
Melbourne University Press, $140 hb, 687 pp, 9780522861310
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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.
By this contributor
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- Brian Matthews reviews 'Antipodean Perspective: Selected Writings of Bernard Smith' edited by Rex Butler and Sheridan Palmer
- Brian Matthews reviews 'A Stolen Season' by Rodney Hall
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