Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Representative Lives? Biography and Labour History

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2011), 100, (1), 127–144.

Abstract

Labour biography is an exercise in shaping meaning from the unruly experience of a life immersed in activism. The biographer facilitates the evolution of a labour tradition with lessons of solidarity and social justice, resistance and betrayal. The complex dynamics of leadership and activism have compelled labour biographers from H.V. Evatt’s study of William Holman, to the recently published first volume of Jenny Hocking’s biography of Gough Whitlam. Outstanding biography is prompted not only by the qualities of the subject but also by a tension between leadership and the tests of war and economic depression, post-war reconstruction, and above all the progressive renewal of Australian society that characterises the historic mission of the labour movement. The article also explores how women’s ‘distinctive class subjectivity’ might be drawn into recasting the terms of not only describing the role of women in the labour movement, but also recasting our wider understanding of Australian labour history.

Access Token
£25.00

Endnotes

1.Barbara Caine, Biography and History,Palgrave Macmillan,, 2010, p.16. Google Scholar

2.Nick Salvatore, ‘Biography and social history: An intimate relationship’, Labour History, no.87, November2004, p.187. Google Scholar

3.Cited inRobert Rotberg, ‘Biography and historiography: Mutual evidentiary and interdisciplinary considerations’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol.40, no.3, 2010, pp.317-18. Google Scholar

4.Lois Banner, ‘Biography as history’, American Historical Review, vol.114, no.3, June2009, p.580. Google Scholar

5.R. Gollan, ‘Labour History’, Bulletin of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, no.1, January1962, pp.3-5. Google Scholar

6.David Day, Chifley,Harper Collins,, 2001;David Day, John Curtin: A Life,Harper Collins,, 1999;Jenny Hocking, Gough Whitlam: The Biography,Miegunyah, Press,, 2008;Blanche d’Alpuget, Hawke: The Prime Minister,Melbourne University Press,, 2010;Don Watson, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM,Random House Australia,, 2002;David Day, Andrew Fisher,Harper Collins,, 2008;Kate White, John Cainand Victorian Labor 1917-1957,, 1982;Bede Nairn, The ‘Big Fella’:Jack Lang and the Australian Labor Party 1891-1949, revised edition,Melbourne University Press,, 1995;Peter Golding, They Called Him Old Smoothie: John Joseph Cahill,Australian Scholarly Publishing,, 2009;Marilyn Dodkin, Bob Carr: The Reluctant Leader,UNSW Press,, 2003;Ross Fitzgerald, ‘Red Ted’: The Life of E.G. Theodore,University of Queensland Press,, 1994;Daniel Connell, The Confessions of Clyde Cameron 1913-1990,ABC Enterprises,, 1990;Tom Uren, Straight Left,Random House Australia,, 1995. Google Scholar

7.Caine, Biography and History, pp.13-14. Google Scholar

8.Marilyn Lake, ‘The constitution of political subjectivity and the writing of labour history’, inTerry Irving(ed.), Challenges to Labour History,UNSW Press,, 1994, p.76. Google Scholar

9.Ibid., pp.77, 80. Google Scholar

10. The Age, 13May2002. Google Scholar

11.Watson, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart, p.76. Google Scholar

12.Ibid., p.19. Google Scholar

13.H.V. Evatt, Australian Labour Leader:The Story of W.A. Holman and the Labour Movement,Angus and Robertson Ltd,, 1940. Google Scholar

14.Kylie Tennant, Evatt: Politics and Justice,Angus and Robertson,, 1970, p.114. Google Scholar

15.Evatt, Australian Labour Leader, p.564. Google Scholar

16.Ibid., p.567. Google Scholar

17.Ibid., p.568. Google Scholar

18.Ibid., pp.566, 574. Google Scholar

19.John Iremonger, ‘Rats’, inJohn Faulkner andStuart Macintyre(eds), True Believers: The Story of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party,Allen & Unwin,, 2001. Google Scholar

20.L.F. Fitzhardinge, William Morris Hughes: A Political Biography,Angus and Robertson,, 2vols, 1964-79. See alsoDonald Horne, In Search of Billy Hughes,Macmillan,, 1979. Google Scholar

21.For a discussion of labour‘rats’, seeJacqueline Dickenson, Renegades and Rats: Betrayal and the Remaking of Radical Organisations in Britain and Australia,Melbourne University Press,, 2006. Google Scholar

22.Al Grassby andSilvia Ordonez, The Man that Time Forgot: The Life and Times of John Christian Watson, Australia’s First Labor Prime Minister,Pluto Press, 1999;Peter Bastian, Andrew Fisher: An Underestimated Man,UNSW Press,, 2009;Edward W. Humphreys, Andrew Fisher: The Forgotten Man,Sports and Editorial Services Australia,, 2008. Google Scholar

23.Caine, Biography and History, pp.118-21. Google Scholar

24.Mark Hearn, ‘Cultivating an Australian sentiment: John Christian Watson’s narrative of white nationalism’, National Identities, vol.9, no.4, 2007. Google Scholar

25.Ross McMullin, So Monstrous a Travesty: Chris Watson and the World’s First National Labour Government,Scribe Publications,, 2004. Google Scholar

26.Hearn, ‘Cultivating an Australian sentiment’, pp.351-52. Google Scholar

27.Aside from Bastian and Humphreys, cited above, see alsoDavid Day, Andrew Fisher: Prime Minister of Australia,HarperCollins,, 2008;W.K. Anderson, ‘Andrew Fisher: “a proud, honest man of Scotland”’, Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, vol.87, no.2, 2001. Google Scholar

28.Evatt, Australian Labour Leader, p.276. Google Scholar

29.Day, Andrew Fisher, p.201. Google Scholar

30.Ibid., pp.198, 218. Google Scholar

31.Bede Nairn, The ‘Big Fella’: Jack Lang and the Australian Labor Party 1891-1949,Melbourne University Press,, 1986, p.316. Google Scholar

32.Heather Radi andPeter Spearritt(eds), Jack Lang,Hale & Iremonger,, 1977; see alsoMiriam Dixson, Greater than Lenin? Lang and Labor 1916-1932,Melbourne University Press, 1977;Harry Mayfield, Jack Lang, the Big Fella!,Kangaroo Press,, 1984;Frank Cain, Jack Lang andthe Great Depression,Australian Scholarly Publishing,, 2005. Google Scholar

33.Tennant, Evatt: Politics and Justice, p.119. Google Scholar

34.Ken Buckley,Barbara Dale andWayne Reynolds, Doc Evatt: Patriot, Internationalist, Fighter and Scholar,Longman Cheshire,Melbourne, 1994, pp.133-34. Google Scholar

35.Ibid., p.410;Peter Crockett, Evatt: A Life,Oxford University Press,, 1993. Google Scholar

36.Buckleyet al., Doc Evatt, p.417. Google Scholar

37.Crockett, Evatt: A Life, p.58. Google Scholar

38.Ibid., pp.59-60. Google Scholar

39.Ibid., p.305. Google Scholar

40.Day, Curtin: A Life;Lloyd Ross, John Curtin: A Biography,Macmillan,, 1977. Google Scholar

41.Day, Curtin: A Life, p.583. Google Scholar

42.Quoted inL.F. Crisp, Ben Chifley: A Biography,Longmans, 1961, p.210. Google Scholar

43.Ibid., pp.210-11. Google Scholar

44.Jenny Hocking, Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History,Melbourne University Publishing,, 2008, p.47. Google Scholar

45.Ibid., p.71. Google Scholar

46.Ibid., pp.101-2. Google Scholar

47.Ibid., pp.120-21. Google Scholar

48.Blanche d’Alpuget, Robert J. Hawke: A Biography,Landsdowne Press,, 1982;Blanche d’Alpuget, Hawke: The Prime Minister,Melbourne University Publishing,, 2010. Google Scholar

49.d’Alpuget, Robert J. Hawke: A Biography, pp.1-2. Google Scholar

50.Jacqueline Kent, The Making of Julia Gillard,Viking,, 2009, p.4. Google Scholar

51.‘Gillard praises “role model” Hawke at book launch’, ABC News [website]http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/12/2951535.htm Google Scholar

52.Kent, The Making of Julia Gillard, p.284. Google Scholar

53. The Age, 15July2010. Google Scholar

54.Banner, ‘Biography as history’, p.579;Joan W. Scott, ‘Gender: A useful category of historical analysis’, inJoan W. Scott, Gender and the Politics of History,Columbia University Press,, 1988. Google Scholar

55.Joy Damousi, ‘Feminist biography’, inRichard Broome(ed.), Tracing Past Lives: The Writing of Historical Biography,History Institute,, 1995, pp.34-35. Google Scholar

56.Joy Damousi, Women Come Rally: Socialism, Communism and Gender in Australia 1890-1955,Oxford University Press,, 1994. Google Scholar

57.Damousi, ‘Feminist biography’, pp.40-41. Google Scholar

58.Pam Young, Proud to be a Rebel: The Life and Times of Emma Miller,University of Queensland Press,, 1991;Bobbie Oliver, Jean Beadle: A Life of Labor Activism,University of Western Australia Press, 2007;Lekkie Hopkins andLyn Roarty, Among the Chosen: The Life Story of Pat Giles,Fremantle Press,, 2010. Google Scholar

59.Kate Deverall, ‘They did not know their place: The politics ofAnnie GoldingandKate Dwyer’, Labour History, no.87, November2004, p.44. Google Scholar

60.Zelda D’Aprano, Kath Williams: The Unions and the Fight for Equal Pay,Spinifex Press,, 2001, p.217. Google Scholar

61.Ibid., pp.219-20. Google Scholar

62.Ibid., p.219. Google Scholar

63.Ibid., p.221. Google Scholar

64.SeePatricia Grimshawet al., Creating a Nation,Penguin Books,, 1996. Google Scholar

65.Barbara Pocock, Strife: Sex and Politics in Labour Unions,Allen & Unwin,, 1997, p.3. Google Scholar

66.Banner, ‘Biography as history’, p.581. Google Scholar

67.Ibid., p.581. Google Scholar

68.Ross Fitzgerald, The People’s Champion: Fred Paterson: Australia’s Only Communist Party Member of Parliament,University of Queensland Press, 1997.Tom McDonald andAudrey McDonald, Intimate Union: Sharing a Revolutionary Life,Pluto Press,, 1998;Stephen Holt, A Veritable Dynamo: Lloyd Ross and Australian Labor 1901-1987,University of Queensland Press,, 1996;Susanna Short, Laurie Short: A Political Life,Allen and Unwin,, 1992;Tasnor Bull, Life on the Waterfront: An Autobiography,Harper Collins,, 1998. Google Scholar

69.Stuart Macintyre, Militant: The Life and Times of Paddy Troy,Allen & Unwin,, 1984. Google Scholar

70.‘Struggling for recognition: The individual in labour history’, a thematic inLabour History, no.87, November2004. We have included in the survey only those works which could be classified as articles. The survey does not include research notes or obituaries. Google Scholar

71.Paul Strangio, ‘“Young, ambitious and eager”: Stan Keon and the Victorian Public Service Association’, Labour History, no.87, November2004, pp.167-86. Google Scholar

72.Keith Gildart andDavid Howell, (eds), Dictionary of Labour Biography,Palgrave Macmillan,, 2010. Google Scholar

73.Andrew Moore andJohn Shields, Collective Biography and Labour History: The Case of The Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement, 1788-1975, unpublished paper presented to the AAHANZBS Conference,University of Sydney, 2009. Google Scholar

74.Rotberg, ‘Biography and historiography’, p.305. Google Scholar

75.Bill Williamson, Class Culture and Community: A Biographical Study of Social Change in Mining,Routledge & Kegan Paul,, 1982. Google Scholar

76.Ibid., p.1. Google Scholar

77.Ibid., pp.2-3. Google Scholar

78.Banner, ‘Biography as history’, p.582. Google Scholar

79.Rotberg, ‘Biography and historiography’, pp.323-24. Google Scholar

80.Ibid., p.324. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Hearn, Mark

Knowles, Harry