Humphrey McQueen

Humphrey McQueen is a Canberra author and reviewer.

Humphrey McQueen remembers Manning Clark

July 1991, no. 132 01 July 1991
Dear Manning, I’m writing you this letter for want of better ways of continuing the conversation we’ve been having for the past eight years, sustained by weekly letters while I was in Japan. We began to walk and talk in 1983 as you were preparing for heart surgery and I wasn’t coping with a broken heart. You wanted someone to walk with, and I needed company. When you died at 4pm on a Thurs ... (read more)

Humphrey McQueen reviews 'Kenneth Slessor: A biography' by Geoffrey Dutton

February–March 1991, no. 128 01 February 1991
Humphrey McQueen reviews 'Kenneth Slessor: A biography' by Geoffrey Dutton
Geoffrey Dutton will not concentrate. Information relevant to his subject reminds him of other titbits, as in this cascade of irrelevancies: McKee Wright deserves the credit for having first published Slessor, and he published a remarkable number of women poets. However, some of his favourites amongst the latter might have been better left in obscurity. Marie E.J. Pitt, for example, in the issu ... (read more)

'What’s in a Name' by Humphrey McQueen

December 1988, no. 107 01 December 1988
First up, best dressed is a warning for flatmates where the laggard must take comfort from the prospect that ‘An overcoat covers a multitude of sins’.  Like the overcoat, research can include a richness of distractions. Asked by her professor what she was doing, one graduate student answered ‘Research’. ‘That’s good’, returned the professor. ‘These days most people seem to be ... (read more)

Humphrey McQueen reviews 'A Radical Life: The autobiography of Russel Ward' by Russel Ward

December 1988, no. 107 01 December 1988
Humphrey McQueen reviews 'A Radical Life: The autobiography of Russel Ward' by Russel Ward
What would you like to know? Doc Evatt’s on-the­-spot explanation of why he wrote to Molotov? Archbishop Mannix’s response to Cardinal Spellman’s claim on the papacy? The particular pleasure derived from small boys by the headmaster of Geelong Grammar Junior School? How a knowledge of Urdu maintained the Hands off Indonesia blockade? What Malcolm Ellis said to Charles Currey when the lif ... (read more)

'Packaging White' by Humphrey McQueen

August 1991, no. 133 01 August 1991
'Packaging White' by Humphrey McQueen
The way that books are presented has changed from the time when Patrick White’s Happy Valley first appeared in 1939. Humphrey McQueen charts the progress. If before the 1890s, books had been judged by their dust jackets, most would have been considered uniformly dull, or indecently attired. Dust jackets appeared first in 1833 to protect the recently introduced cloth casings as they made thei ... (read more)

'On Patrick White' by Humphrey McQueen

December 1990–January 1991, no. 127 01 December 1990
'On Patrick White' by Humphrey McQueen
I met Patrick White first in 1965. Reduced to 1.9s.6d, he was lying, in an American edition of Riders in the Chariot, on a sale table at Finney Isles department store in Brisbane. So much has changed. Today, we would talk of remainders; the shop has been taken over by David Jones which has in turn been taken over by Adelaide Steamship which later bought up Grace Bros; prices are now given in doll ... (read more)

Humphrey McQueen reviews 'The Abundant Culture, Meaning and Significance in Everyday Australia', edited by David Headon, Joy Hooton, and Donald Horne

May 1995, no. 170 01 May 1995
Humphrey McQueen reviews 'The Abundant Culture, Meaning and Significance in Everyday Australia', edited by David Headon, Joy Hooton, and Donald Horne
The way we organise our deaths offers insight into the meanings and significances we attribute to life. The sidelining of organised religion has allowed Australians to voice our own ideas about the muddles of existence through the choice of music for funerals. The regularity with which ‘I did it my way’ is heard at wakes is a reminder of how much more pertinent that song is for individuality t ... (read more)