Biography and Memoirs

Rachel Robertson reviews 'Welcome to Your New Life'

Rachel Robertson
26 March 2013

The welcome in the title of this memoir refers both to Goldsworthy welcoming her baby son and to her recognition that her own life has irrevocably changed. The commonplace but also profound shifts resulting from motherhood are gently displayed for the reader, without sentimentality or the relentless self-deprecating irony of many motherhood memoirs and blogs. As rea ... More

Peter Kenneally reviews the new biography of Werner Pelz

Peter Kenneally
26 March 2013

In 1985, at La Trobe University, a sociology undergraduate is in a tutorial with his supervisor. He has chosen to write 6000 words on the role of art and the artist in capitalist societies and his sixty-four-year-old tutor has, rather surprisingly, encouraged him.

In fact, as the student, Roger Averill, comes to know the older man, he realises that ‘ ... More

Paul Madden reviews 'Raffles and the Golden Opportunity, 1781–1826'

Paul Madden
25 March 2013

In 1819, when Lachlan Macquarie was shaping New South Wales, Stamford Raffles established the settlement of Singapore, which was to fulfil his dream of becoming a great eastern ‘Emporium’ and which remains a key trade hub in the Asia Pacific region today. But that is about all most people know about the man who gave his name to so many institutions in the modern ... More

Lyndon Megarrity reviews the new biography of Arthur A. Calwell

Lyndon Megarrity
25 March 2013

Arthur Augustus Calwell is hardly the most celebrated or mythologised politician in the history of the Australian Labor Party. His achievements as the first minister for immigration have been overshadowed by his very public advocacy of the White Australia policy. Calwell’s ultimate personal ambition to become prime minister was denied him. Even his crazy-bra ... More

The fortunes of HHR’s father

John Arnold
25 March 2013

Helen Garner, speaking about Nora, the main character in her iconic novel Monkey Grip (1977), once said that, although she had seen and experienced many of the things that had happened to Nora, she was not Nora. In a similar vein, Bruce Steele argues in this short biography of Walter Lindesay Richardson that although there are many similarities b ... More

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews the memoir: 'Ghost Wife'

Jay Daniel Thompson
06 March 2013

Ghost Wife is a timely text, given the recent debates about same-sex marriage. Michelle Dicinoski writes about travelling to Canada in 2005 to marry her girlfriend, Heather.

The pair met while undertaking postgraduate studies in Queensland. By marrying, they wanted to make a ‘permanent record’ of their relationship. ... More

Shannon Burns reviews a new title on the life of David Foster Wallace

Shannon Burns
30 January 2013

According to D.T. Max, ‘At the time of his tragic death by suicide in September 2008, David Foster Wallace was the foremost writer of his generation, the one who had forged the newest path and from whom the others, directly or indirectly, took their cues.’ Indeed, for someone desperate to escape the confines of self and wary of literary celebrity, Wallace endure ... More

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews a new biography of Ryszard Kapuściński

Sheila Fitzpatrick
30 January 2013

A famous Polish communist foreign correspondent? It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but actually Ryszard Kapuściński did achieve international fame towards the end of the Cold War, after a highly successful career covering the Third World for leading media in the People’s Republic of Poland from the 1950s. Africa and, later, Latin America were his s ... More

John Rickard reviews 'Norman Haire and the Study of Sex''

John Rickard
29 January 2013

Norman Haire was born in Sydney’s Paddington in 1892, the year in which the word ‘homosexual’ is said to have entered the English language in the translation of Krafft-Ebing’sPsychopathia Sexualis. It was a coincidence Haire might have enjoyed, though for a man given to speaking his mind he was always discreet about his homosexuality.

... More

Bronwyn Lea reviews Simon Armitage's 'Walking Home'

Bronwyn Lea
28 January 2013

W ordsworth – poet–walker par excellence – had the best legs in the business. As his friend Thomas de Quincy noted: ‘Undoubtedly they had been serviceable legs beyond the average standard of requisition. For I calculate, upon good data, that with these identical legs Wordsworth must have traversed a distance of 185,000 English miles.’ In contrast, Simon Ar ... More

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