John Rickard

Dennis Altman recently published a slice of autobiography, Unrequited Love: Diary of an accidental activist, addressing ‘his long obsession with the United States’. Now, as if to remind us that his training has been in political science, Altman presents us with this lively survey of monarchies old and new, constitutional and absolute, European and Asian. It has its origins in the Economist democracy index, according to which seven of the ten most democratic nations were constitutional monarchies. The list is dominated by the Scandinavian kingdoms, with Norway at the top, and former dominions of the British Empire, with Australia just scraping into the list at equal ninth with the Netherlands. As a committed republican, Altman was set thinking by this apparent alliance of monarchy and democracy.

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In the past we have tended either to ignore or to marginalise cultural ‘expatriates’. In today’s cosmopolitan culture, we are more used to varied career paths, but it is still possible for someone who has made most of their career abroad to be overlooked. Judith Anderson is a case in point. Born in Adelaide in 1897, Francee Anderson (her first stage name) made her professional stage début in 1915 in Sydney, but from 1918 she was, virtually for the rest of her life, based in the United States. Desley Deacon’s substantial, superbly illustrated biography rescues Anderson from obscurity and reveals the full extent of her remarkable career on stage, in film, and on television.

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Australian musical theatre has had a long if chequered history going back to the popular, localised melodramas and pantomimes of the nineteenth century. In the more recent past, we think of successes such as Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994) and The Boy from Oz (2003) ...

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In 1976, when Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and his wife, Tamie, were on an official visit to the White House in Washington, she was shown the collection of Americana acquired through the White House Historical Association, an idea of Jacqueline Kennedy’s as First Lady. Her enthusiasm for a similar Australian fund ...

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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 ...

I was a student at Sydney University when, in 1954, the embattled Labor leader Dr H.V. Evatt went public, accusing a small group of Labor MPs of disloyalty, their attempt to gain control of the party being directed from a source outside the labour movement. He identified the Melbourne News Weekly as their mouthpiece. Few had heard of B.A. (‘Bob’) Santam ...

Finding the right teacher is always a challenge for young singers, and the relationship between student and teacher can see the formation of a lifelong bond. By the same ...

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When Take Me to Paris, Johnny was first published in 1993, the AIDS crisis seemed to be at its worst. Many of us had friends and acquaintances who were dying. One began to notice men who, thin and haggard, one feared were suffering from AIDS (women victims being relatively few in number). There was no sign of the drug therapies that would, towards the end o ...

Hector Crawford is a unique figure in the history of Australian radio and television. The Australian Dictionary of Biography article (also by the author of this book) describes him as 'television producer, media lobbyist and musician', to which could be added radio producer, showman, and entrepreneur. Above all, he was a persistent and canny advocate of Aus ...

To highlight Australian Book Review's arts coverage and to celebrate some of the year's memorable concerts, operas, films, ballets, plays, and exhibitions, we invited a group of critics and arts professionals to nominate their favourites – and to nominate one production they are looking forward to in 2016. (We indicate which works were reviewed in Arts Up ...

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