Category Archives: Biography

‘…with love and fury’ – The centenary of Judith Wright, 31 May 1915


 Humphrey McQueen

18 May 2015

I think poetry should be treated, not as a lofty art separated from life, but as a way of seeing and expressing not just the personal view, but the whole context of the writer’s times. For me, it has been a way of searching for understanding of my own life and of what was happening to me and around me.
Judith Wright, ‘Foreword’, A Human Pattern (1989)

 ‘… with love and fury’ is how the environmentalist, feminist, historian, literary critic, poet and secretary of the Treaty Committee, Judith Wright, often signed off her letters to friends. Continue reading



Victor Isaacs

Abstract: John Dias was an active unionist from the 1890s to the 1920s. His experiences included the Queensland shearers’ dispute, with William Lane’s utopian Australian settlements in Paraguay, in Broken Hill during two major disputes, prominence in the Kalgoorlie goldfields’ unions, with the Melbourne Trades Hall and Victorian Labor Party, and in particular leaving a mark on the Carpenters’ Union. Today he is commemorated by a plaque bearing a very generous tribute at the main entrance to the Melbourne Trades Hall.  But he is little remembered. This paper will document his peripatetic and varied career in the labour movement. Continue reading

An Australian Newspaper in Paraguay 1894–1904

 by Victor Isaacs


Following the failures of the maritime dispute in 1890, the shearers’ dispute in 1891 and the great economic depression of the early 1890s, many in the Australian working class came to the conclusion that Australia would not become a workingman’s paradise. Some sought other solutions, such as starting anew elsewhere. Continue reading

Billy Hughes’ Canberra Son

Stephen Holt

William Morris Hughes remains the archetypal Judas-figure in the demonology of the Australian Labor Party.  He was a leading figure in the early party but split from it in 1916 over the issue of military conscription and threw in his lot with the anti-Labor forces in federal politics.  There was no reconciliation with his former comrades. 

What is still vaguely remembered, though, is that Billy Hughes had a son who in the grim years of the 1930s was involved in organised agitation in support of unemployed workers thereby creating a piquant contrast with his father’s act of desertionThis latter-day embrace of the labour cause within the Hughes family took place in Canberra and forms a significant episode in its local political history. Continue reading

Harry Holland

Frank Mines

There are a number of reasons why we should remember Harry Holland. For one reason, he is the only significant political figure to have come from the Canberra district. Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – A Leftist in Cold War Canberra: Bruce Yuill


A Leftist in Cold War Canberra: Bruce Yuill

 Stephen Holt


On 29 July 1953, the Canberra Trades and Labor Council, the city’s peak employee body, re-elected a boisterous young Labor man named Bruce Yuill as its President.  The Council’s vote of endorsement meant that Yuill, a flamboyant socialist, headed the trade union movement in Australia’s federal capital at a crucial time politically, with the Cold War well underway and the Australian Labor Party teetering on the historic schism of 1955.

Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – Anti-­Communism Undermined: The Uncomfortable Alliances of W. C. Wentworth


AntiCommunism Undermined: The Uncomfortable Alliances of W. C. Wentworth

 Lachlan Clohesy


William Charles Wentworth, one of Australia’s most prominent anti-communist agitators, frequently linked both socialism and communism to Nazisim, on the basis of the perceived totalitarian nature of socialist and communist governments. To Wentworth, even the Chifley Labor government’s policies in the late 1940s would inexorably lead to a Soviet-style regime in Australia. Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – Reinstating ‘Casual Connelly’


Reinstating ‘Casual Connelly’: a Labour pioneer and the struggle for political rights for public servants in New Zealand

 Peter Franks



When the New Zealand Labour Party celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1966, Michael Connelly was the only living member of those who were elected to national office in 1916 when the party was founded. Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – Harry Atkinson and the Socialist Church, 1896-­1906


Harry Atkinson and the Socialist Church, 1896-­1906

 James Taylor


In the early 1890s Harry Atkinson, the subject of this paper, travelled to England and spent a year as foundation secretary of the Manchester and Salford Labour Church. In Manchester Atkinson worked closely with the Church’s founder John Trevor and experienced the colour and symbolism of protest and demonstration, and the ritual and rhetoric of Labour Church services. Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – The ‘Radical’ Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr William Temple


The ‘Radical’ Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr William Temple1

Doris LeRoy


This paper will outline the life of Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, who was the head of the Church of England worldwide from 1942-1944. Temple was an unusual archbishop, who had joined the Labour Party in Britain in 1918.  While his parentage doubtless assisted to his rise within the church ranks, his ability was recognised despite his socialistic leanings. Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – Shirley Andrews: social idealist for Aboriginal rights or agent of the CPA?


Shirley Andrews: social idealist for Aboriginal rights or agent of the CPA?

 Sue Taffe


Shirley Andrews joined the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1945. During the Cold War years her Party membership had a negative impact on her life. Political interference by an anti-communist member of the Victorian Parliament meant she had to fight to retain a job to which she had been appointed. Continue reading