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Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews (1936–2022) was the author of short stories, essays, and biographies. 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.

Brian Matthews reviews ‘Drawing The Crow’ by Adrian Mitchell

June-July 2006, no. 282 01 June 2006
I had never been to Adelaide in my life when I arrived for an interview that, as it turned out, would result in my spending the next twenty-five years in South Australia. The early November heat was too much for my Melbourne best suit, and I was carrying my coat when I walked gratefully into a city pub for a post-interview beer. In the bar – air conditioned down to a level threatening patrons wi ... (read more)

'A Lawson for our times' by Brian Matthews

May 2009, no. 311 01 May 2009
It is exhilarating and always illuminating to return to Henry Lawson. His is a body of work – slim and fragile though it may be – with which many would confidently claim to be particularly familiar. ‘The Drover’s Wife’, ‘The Union Buries Its Dead’, ‘The Loaded Dog’ and many others are a part of our literary and cultural reference. Yet Lawson’s fiction is so deceptive, seemingly ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'Struggle and Storm' by Meg Tasker

July 2001, no. 232 01 July 2001
I first encountered Francis Adams when various sharp or mordant observations from his The Australians kept cropping up in my reading about Henry Lawson and his times. For one thing, Adams’s widow, Edith (though there is apparently doubt about their marital status), invited Lawson and his wife, Bertha, to stay with her in the village of Harpenden while they looked for accommodation. Lawson duly r ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'National Treasure' by Michael Wilding

July–August 2007, no. 293 26 August 2022
I was thinking a while back about some of the ways novels begin; not just the famous ones – ‘Happy families are alike’ etc, ‘Call me Ishmael’, ‘Unemployed at last’ – but also some contemporary examples. If I had read Michael Wilding’s National Treasure at that time, I would have conscripted it immediately: ‘Plant slipped down lower in his car seat as the man down the street was ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'General Peter Cosgrove: My Story' by Peter Cosgrove and 'Cosgrove: Portrait of a Leader' by Patrick Lindsay

February 2007, no. 288 01 February 2007
George Orwell begins Homage to Catalonia with a description of an Italian militiaman whom he encounters briefly at the Lenin Barracks in Barcelona as he is about to join up. He was a rough looking youth of twenty-five or six, with reddish yellow hair and powerful shoulders … Something in his face deeply moved me … I hardly know why, but I have seldom seen anyone – any man I mean – to wh ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'The First Voice of Australian Feminism: Excerpts from Louisa Lawson’s "The Dawn" 1888–1895' by Olive Lawson

April 1990, no. 119 01 April 1990
Louisa Lawson’s journal, The Dawn, probably wasn’t as politically influential as we would like to think, despite reliable evidence of a substantial subscription list and a fairly far-flung readership. Its championing of major issues of the day such as Female Suffrage and Marriage and Divorce law reform was relentless, unswervingly logical, and resounding, but the momentum which would bring vic ... (read more)

'What Dymphna Knew: Manning Clark and Kristallnacht' by Brian Matthews

May 2007, no. 291 01 May 2007
Mark McKenna’s analysis of Manning Clark’s Kristallnacht episode (The Monthly, March 2007) – in which he shows that Clark was not in Bonn on Kristallnacht, that he arrived a couple of weeks later, but that in ensuing years he appropriated his fiancée Dymphna’s experience and account and made it his own without any attribution – may be further illuminated, given another dimension, if we ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'Cricket Kings' by William McInnes

October 2006, no. 285 01 October 2006
It was the first game for the season in some halcyon year of my cricketing past. We’d scraped together a team, but the other mob was rumoured to be a couple short. Their first three batsmen were competent enough and made a few. Then a collapse brought number eight to the wicket. Impeccably clad, he was one of those blokes who puts his gloves on after taking guard and then spends minutes surveyin ... (read more)

Brian Matthews reviews 'Cutting Green Hay: Friendships, movements and cultural conflicts in Australia's great decades' by Vincent Buckley

August 1983, no. 53 01 August 1983
On his first day at St Patrick’s, East Melbourne, Vincent Buckley was ‘flogged and flogged’ by a Jesuit priest in ‘an incompetent fury’. It is an experience that many of his readers will easily recognise, though their remembered lambastings were more likely to have been incurred at the hands of the Brothers and, unlike Buckley’s, would have been a continuing feature of school life. It ... (read more)
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