Brian Fitzpatrick – a notable historian, intellectual, and civil libertarian – was a prominent Melbourne figure in the middle of the twentieth century. He died in 1965 and survives partly as the central figure in Sheila Fitzpatrick’s poignant memoir My Father’s Daughter (2010), an affectionate and yet painfully honest book. It describes Fitzpatrick’s difficult marriage, his awkwardness in relationships, the frustrations of his career, and, above all, his drinking. Around the time his daughter was born, Fitzpatrick published two books that made a significant mark on Australian historiography: British Imperialism and Australia, 1783–1833 (1939) and its sequel The British Empire in Australia: An Economic History 1834–1939 (1941). Sheila Fitzpatrick credits these works with an important role in prompting Manning Clark to repudiate an economic view of Australian history in favour of his grand narrative of competing philosophies.
by Brian Fitzpatrick
Melbourne University Publishing, $32.99 pb, 313 pp, 9780522864472
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Michael McGirr is the dean of faith and mission at St Kevin's College in Melbourne.
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