Biography and Memoirs

Eleanor Hogan reviews the musical journey of 'Cadence'

Eleanor Hogan
22 July 2014

To take to the road on a bike, especially if you are a solo female cyclist, is to make yourself vulnerable, submitting yourself to hours of muscle-taxing solitude and reliance on the kindness of strangers. But while slower and physically more arduous than other modes of transport, cycling brings you closer to your surroundings. It offers different perspectives and u ... More

Lyndon Megarrity reviews the new political biography of Don Dunstan

Lyndon Megarrity
22 July 2014

When I was commissioned to write this review, I assumed that this book would be a conventional political biography. I looked forward to reading about Dunstan’s career as premier of South Australia (1967–68 and 1970–79), as his record of achievements showed that our states and territories have the potential to be powerful players in social and cultural reform. ... More

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews Biff Ward's 'In My Mother's Hands'

Sheila Fitzpatrick
22 July 2014

For anyone who has ever complained about a difficult mother, or written a memoir about one, this is a humbling book. How trivial, by comparison, our complaints seem. The subtitle promises (or threatens) a disturbing memoir, and so it is. I found it difficult to get out of my head days after reading it.

Biff (born Elizabeth in 1942) Ward was the second child ... More

Peter Hill: The fecundity of Lucian Freud

Peter Hill
28 May 2014

He painted Kate Moss naked. The Kray twins threatened to cut off his painting hand over bad gambling debts. He was officially recognised as father to fourteen children by numerous partners, but the unofficial tally could be as high as forty (three were born to different mothers within a few months). He is Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund Freud, born in Berlin on 8 ... More

Jeremy Fisher: a critical biography of Gerald Glaskin

Jeremy Fisher
28 May 2014

Never heard of him – that’s the most common reaction when I mention Gerry Glaskin. Some Western Australians remember him, as they should: he was born and spent his last years there. Yet in between he was a bestselling novelist in the 1950s and 1960s. He was translated into French, German, Swedish, Russian, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Danish, and Norwegian. Doubleda ... More

Colin Steele: An Oxford don on his prolific past

Colin Steele
28 May 2014

John Carey’s The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books has three intertwined components: autobiographical memories from Carey, a prolific author and book reviewer and former Merton Professor of English Literature at Oxford; his six-decade interaction with that university; and ‘English literature and me, how we met, how we got on, what came of it ... More

Dina Ross: A media personality's battle with shyness

Dina Ross
28 May 2014

Shy is a strange beast – part memoir, part journalistic investigation, part cri de coeur. Reading it, you are immersed in the interior life of an intelligent and sensitive woman. The experience is unsettling, almost voyeuristic. You wonder whether you should be sharing such an intense and honest self-scrutiny, and often feel as if you were breaching ... More

Richard Toye: a major study of the literary Churchill

Richard Toye
27 May 2014

On the rear jacket of this fascinating and important book is a picture of Winston Churchill at his desk at Chartwell, his house in Kent, just a few months before the outbreak of World War II. Apparently caught in the moment of literary creation, cigar in mouth and concentrating on his papers, the photo credit – to a Picture Post photographer – leads to th ... More

Alison Broinowski: Malcolm Fraser on Foreign Policy

Alison Broinowski
27 May 2014

Coinciding with the World War I anniversaries, Malcolm Fraser’s book will polarise Australian opinion on a fundamental issue. It has never been raised in this way, for Australian leaders have not discussed decisions to go to war in public, nor sought popular approval of Australia’s alliances. Yet successive generations of young Australians have fought in British ... More

Sheila Fitzpatrick on history vs memoir

Sheila Fitzpatrick
27 May 2014

In Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Sandcastle (1957), a young artist called Rain Carter is commissioned to paint a retired schoolmaster, Demoyte, an eccentric with an offbeat sense of h More

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