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.

John Rickard reviews 'Making the Australian Male: Middle-class masculinity 1870–1920' by Martin Crotty

September 2001, no. 234 01 September 2001
John Rickard reviews 'Making the Australian Male: Middle-class masculinity 1870–1920' by Martin Crotty
Masculinity isn’t what it used to be. To begin with, it has gone forth and multiplied to become masculinities, for it is a requirement of a pluralist culture that diversity not only be acknowledged but cultivated. What has happened, of course, is that as women’s history has given way to gender studies, masculinity, which was formerly taken for granted as part of the dominant culture, is being ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'Capital: Melbourne when it was the capital city of Australia 1901–1927' by Kristin Otto

February 2010, no. 318 01 February 2010
John Rickard reviews 'Capital: Melbourne when it was the capital city of Australia 1901–1927' by Kristin Otto
Academic historians only took to urban history in any systematic way during the 1970s, but Melbourne, regardless of what historians might have had to say about it, has always had a strong sense of its own identity and culture. In the heyday of 1880s ‘Marvellous Melbourne’, journalist Richard Twopeny saw the city as representing ‘the fullest development of Australian civilisation, whether in ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'God Save the Queen: The strange persistence of monarchies' by Dennis Altman

October 2021, no. 436 23 September 2021
John Rickard reviews 'God Save the Queen: The strange persistence of monarchies' by Dennis Altman
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 dem ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'The Australians: Insiders and outsiders on the national character since 1770' edited by John Hirst

November 2007, no. 296 01 December 2007
John Rickard reviews 'The Australians: Insiders and outsiders on the national character since 1770' edited by John Hirst
Back in 1981, Richard White, in his seminal study Inventing Australia, dubbed the Australian concern with defining national identity ‘a national obsession’. It was a time when ‘the new nationalism’ associated with John Gorton and Gough Whitlam had reignited debate about anthems, flags and the paraphernalia of nationhood. The converse of this fixation has been the recurrent fear that the ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'Nobody’s Valentine: Letters in the life of Valentine Alexa Leeper 1900–2001' by Marion Poynter

February 2009, no. 308 01 February 2009
John Rickard reviews 'Nobody’s Valentine: Letters in the life of Valentine Alexa Leeper 1900–2001' by Marion Poynter
Valentine Alexa Leeper: it’s a name to conjure with. The daughter of the first warden of the University of Melbourne’s Trinity College, Alexander Leeper, she was christened ‘Valentine’ because she was born on 14 February. No name could have been less appropriate: she was to prove a committed spinster. She was remarkable for a number of reasons, not least of which was that her life spanned ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'The Master: The life and work of Edward H. Sugden' edited by Renate Howe

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
John Rickard reviews 'The Master: The life and work of Edward H. Sugden' edited by Renate Howe
Edward Sugden was the first master of Melbourne University’s Queen’s College, a position he held for forty years. One needs to provide this identification, because although in his day Sugden was regarded as one of Melbourne’s best-known citizens, his is one of those names that has dropped from view. Along with his contemporaries Alexander Leeper of Trinity College and John MacFarland of Ormo ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'Judith Anderson: Australian star, first lady of the American stage' by Desley Deacon

March 2020, no. 419 24 February 2020
John Rickard reviews 'Judith Anderson: Australian star, first lady of the American stage' by Desley Deacon
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 i ... (read more)

The Dressmaker: A Musical Adaptation (Monash University)

ABR Arts 23 October 2018
The Dressmaker: A Musical Adaptation (Monash University)
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). We tend to overlook more intimate exercises in musical theatre, such as the innovative Sydney Phillip Street revues of the 1950 ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'Collecting for the Nation: The Australiana Fund' edited by Jennifer Sanders

December 2017, no. 397 28 November 2017
John Rickard reviews 'Collecting for the Nation: The Australiana Fund' edited by Jennifer Sanders
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 coincided with government concern about the care and condition of not just one but ... (read more)

John Rickard reviews 'The Enigmatic Mr Deakin' by Judith Brett

September 2017, no. 394 23 August 2017
John Rickard reviews 'The Enigmatic Mr Deakin' by Judith Brett
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 Deakin. If our politicians still ... (read more)
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