Biography and Memoirs

Philip Goad on Harry Seidler's 'Singular Vision'

Philip Goad
17 January 2014

Among the diaspora of European-born Jewish artists, architects, academics, and intellectuals who made a life on Australian shores pre- and post-World War II, Harry Seidler (1923–2006) was, arguably, the most successful and at various times during his life, one of the most visible and most controversial. As an architect, he left behind signature office buildi ... More

Brian Matthews on the 'Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18'

Brian Matthews
17 January 2014

In his brief preface to Volume 1 of the Australian Dictionary of Biography 17881850 A–H (1966), Douglas Pike describes the ‘all-Australian, Commonwealth-wide … consultation and co-operation’ underpinning the volume and notes that the breadth and complexity of its intellectual network meant the Dictionary could ‘truly be ... More

Dina Ross reviews 'This is the Story of a Happy Marriage'

Dina Ross
17 January 2014

In 2006, novelist Ann Patchett found herself in the midst of intense controversy. Truth and Beauty, an account of her friendship with the late writer Lucy Grealy, had been allocated as a text for freshmen at Clemson University, South Carolina. One parent objected because the book depicted an intense affection between two women, discussed premarital sex, ... More

White Beech

John Thompson
16 January 2014

John Thompson examines Germaine Greer’s sober, meditative, deeply moving account of her efforts to regenerate sixty hectares of degraded rainforest in the Gold Coast hinterland.

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Michael Crennan reviews the biography of Henry Friendly

Michael Crennan
28 November 2013

Henry Friendly was a judge of the highest reputation – greater than Learned Hand in Justice Scalia’s opinion. His output was prodigious, his legacy unmatched: of his fifty-one clerks, twenty-one (including the present incumbent) became justices of the Supreme Court of the United States; in that Court’s decisions, only Learned Hand was cited more often th ... More

Graeme Powell reviews 'An Unqualified Success'

Graeme Powell
28 November 2013

In 1939 President Roosevelt nominated the poet Archibald MacLeish to be the Librarian of Congress, replacing Herbert Putnam, who had held the post since 1899. MacLeish had not previously been employed in a library. American librarians reacted to the news with outrage and disbelief, with one of their leaders claiming that he could no more think of a poet as the ... More

Sara Savage reviews 'Banana Girl'

Sara Savage
27 November 2013

Writing a memoir at the age of thirty may seem like an exercise in self-indulgence: what wisdom could one possibly impart amid the universal tumultuousness of the Saturn Return? Seemingly aware of the predicament, the author of Banana Girl doesn’t pretend to deliver any answers, her memoir instead giving a more immediate snapshot into the life of a tw ... More

Debbie Hamilton's 'Out of Bounds'

Debi Hamilton
27 November 2013

Last week I received an envelope in the mail, the address written in my father’s hand. My heart accelerated a little and it struck me as unseemly, at my age and in my circumstances, to be still so easily rattled by a parent.

The envelope was light – inside I found only a newspaper clipping and a small note. I spread them out on the kitchen bench. A frien ... More

Kári Gíslason on Peter Goldsworthy's memoir

Kári Gíslason
27 November 2013

Italo Calvino once observed that the ideal condition for a writer is ‘close to anonymity’, adding that ‘the more the author’s figure invades the field, the more the world he portrays empties’. These comments about anonymity were made during an interview on Swiss television, no less. Calvino must have felt his imaginary worlds slipping away as he spoke.

... More

Ian Gibbins on 'Gardens of Fire'

Ian Gibbins
27 November 2013

As I write this article in my Adelaide Hills home, surrounded by native eucalypts and introduced fruit trees, large areas in New South Wales are dealing with the consequences of some of the worst bushfires in recorded history. Remarkably, given the unseasonally extreme weather, the rugged terrain, and the ferocity of the fires the ... More

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