John Rickard

John Rickard

John Rickard is the author of Australia: A Cultural History (2017). In his youth he worked as an actor and singer.

The fifty-seventh summer of Ray Lawler’s great play

February 2012, no. 338 01 February 2012
I first saw Summer of the Seventeenth Doll in 1957 in London, of all places. I remember feeling some pride in seeing the symbolic kewpie doll presiding over the New Theatre in the heart of the West End. June Jago’s performance as Olive has stayed with me over the years; Philip Hope-Wallace, the Guardian reviewer, described her as ‘all chin and elbows, but as genuine a dramatic actress as you c ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews '1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia' by James Boyce

July–August 2011, no. 333 29 June 2011
The title of this book might, to an innocent observer, suggest a triumphalist history, an impression that could be reinforced by the preface, which argues that the setting up of a squatters’ camp on the banks of the Yarra in 1835 ‘had a significance far beyond the baptism of a great city’, and concludes with the remarkable declaration that ‘in this place, at this time, “Australia” was ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'Savage or Civilised? Manners in Colonial Australia' by Penny Russell

February 2011, no. 328 04 May 2011
Lacking a titled aristocracy and the leisured class that went with it, Australian colonial society encouraged an egalitarianism of manners. This, however, did not reflect the absence of social stratification: rather, as it has been argued, it was a means of being reconciled to it in a new setting. Nor did it mean, as Penny Russell demonstrates in Savage or Civilised?, that there were not many who ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'Not Dark Yet' by David Walker

April 2011, no. 330 24 March 2011
It is perhaps not surprising that historians, as they edge towards retirement, should consider the possibility of reviewing their own life history. So, for example, among the generation of postwar historians, Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Bernard Smith added powerful stories to our stock of Australian childhoods, while W.K. Hancock and Manning Clark, managing two volumes apiece, focused more on the lif ... (read more)

'The tyranny of text? Different readings at the Melbourne International Arts Festival' by John Rickard

December 2010–January 2011, no. 327 07 December 2010
Different readings at the Melbourne International Arts Festival by John Rickard   In October, Brett Sheehy’s Melbourne International Arts Festival presented, with a certain relish, I suspect, two productions that represent opposite ends of a dramatic spectrum of current concern to those working in theatre. Heiner Goebbels’s Stifters Dinge (Stifter’s Things) is introduced as ‘a comp ... (read more)
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