Heather Neilson

American writer Gore Vidal was an intimate of political power. His grandfather was a US senator; his father served as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Director of Air Commerce. When his mother remarried, to Hugh Auchincloss, Vidal obtained a descendant of Vice President Aaron Burr as a stepfather ...

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The editors of Who Do You Think You Are? cheerfully point out the imprecision and contradictoriness of the second part of their title. ‘How can you be born in Australia and also be an immigrant? If you were not born in Australia but came here at an early age, how can you be second generation?’ Nevertheless, they have chosen to regard the linguistic slipperiness and confusion inherent in the term ‘second generation immigrant’ as being appropriate to the social reality of those to whom it refers. The thirty-five contributors are therefore predominantly women who were born in Australia of immigrant parents or who came to Australia at an early age.

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