Biography

Book cover
The Devil and James McAuley

by Cassandra Pybus
Ligature untapped
genre Biography · Non-fiction

James McAuley was many things: poet, founding editor of the journal Quadrant, one of those involved in the notorious Ern Malley hoax, Catholic convert – and, as Cassandra Pybus reveals in this award-winning biography, an influential cold war warrior with connections to ASIO and the CIA. But how did these different aspects of his life influence each other? 

First published in 1999, The Devil and James McAuley won the National Non-Fiction Award.

Cassandra Pybus is a biographer, historian and novelist. Her most recent book is Truganini, winner of the National Biography Award, 2021.


Book cover
The Big Fella

by Bede Nairn
Ligature untapped
genre Biography · Non-fiction

Jack Lang was twice premier of New South Wales, his second term ending in 1932 with dismissal by the Governor at the height of the Great Depression. Covering a key period in Australia’s history, and that of the Australian Labor Party, The Big Fella is much more than an illuminating biography of the complex Lang. 

Bede Nairn (1917–2006) was the general editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography for many years and a highly respected historian. The Big Fella was first published in 1986.


Book cover
Ready When You Are, C.B.!

by Alan Yates
Ligature untapped
genre Biography · Non-fiction

Carter Brown was a publishing phenomenon whose mystery novels sold in their millions around the world. But who was he? Alan Yates, his creator, tells all in this extraordinary account of a globally successful and astonishingly productive Australian writer of pulp fiction who until recently had fallen into obscurity.

First published in 1983. For more information about Carter Brown’s work visit www.carterbrownonline.com/carter-brown.


Book cover
Paradise Mislaid

by Anne Whitehead
Ligature untapped
genre Biography · Non-fiction

Part history, part travelogue, all riveting story, Paradise Mislaid is historian Anne Whitehead’s award-winning account of her quest to discover the story of the 500 idealistic Australians who attempted to establish a socialist Utopia in the jungles of Paraguay at the end of the nineteenth century.

‘One of the most bizarre stories in Australian history – splendidly told by one of our master story-tellers.’ — Frank Moorhouse

‘An exhaustive yet entertaining piece of historical detective work which is at once authoritative, scholarly and delightfully chatty… due to Whitehead’s own indefatigable physical adventures, it’s also a travel adventure to rival Bruce Chatwin’s wanderings.’ — The Leader

‘A superb blend of travel writing and history, during which Whitehead casts her discerning eye on the present, with pertinent excursions to the past. This personal odyssey has resulted in a wonderful, rambunctious, passionate, picaresque narrative that combines meticulous research with compelling personal stories and acute observation. One is swept irresistibly along.’ — Tim Bowden, Sydney Morning Herald

First published in 1997, Paradise Mislaid won the New South Wales Premier’s Australian History Award in 1998 and was also shortlisted for the Nita Kibble Literary Award that same year. Anne Whitehead’s companion volume, Bluestocking in Patagonia, is also part of the Untapped Collection.


Book cover
Letters from Smike

by Arthur Streeton
Ligature untapped
genre Biography · Letters · Non-fiction

Sir Arthur Streeton, a founding member of the Heidelberg School of painters, remains one of Australia’s best known artists. He was also a prolific, engaging letter writer. This collection includes letters to fellow artists Tom Roberts, Lionel Lindsay, Frederick McCubbin, Julian Ashton, George Lambert and Sydney Ure Smith. It offers an invaluable record not only of the life and opinions of one man, but of artistic and cultural life in an Australia emerging from the British shadow.

With pictures selected by Oliver Streeton, Arthur Streeton’s grandson, Letters from Smike was first published in 1989.

Editors Ann Galbally and Anna Gray are renowned experts in Australian art and both have published extensively in the area. Ann Galbally is a former academic, and Anna Gray is the former Head of Australian Art at the Australian National Gallery.


Book cover
Joh

by Hugh Lunn
Ligature untapped
genre Biography · Non-fiction

Sir Johannes ‘Joh’ Bjelke-Peterson was premier of Queensland from 1968 until 1987. First published in 1978, award-winning author Hugh Lunn’s biography was written half-way through Bjelke-Peterson’s controversial time in office, so has a very different perspective to the biographies that followed.

Hugh Lunn is a Walkley Award-winning journalist and the bestselling author of Over the Top with Jim (1989) and Vietnam: A Reporter’s War (1985), winner of The Age Book of the Year Award for Non-Fiction.


Book cover
Blessed City

by Gwen Harwood
Ligature untapped
genre Biography · Letters · Non-fiction

An award-winning collection of wartime letters from a young Gwen Harwood, living with her family in Brisbane and yet to become an award-winning poet, to Thomas Riddell, a soldier stationed in Darwin.

‘In her extraordinary book Blessed City: Letters to Thomas Riddell 1943, we are offered a remarkably comprehensive insight into the twenty-three-year-old Gwen Harwood – or Gwen Foster as she was then. Her letters were vivacious, witty, observant, self-aware and self-satirising, and vivid with insights. The early brilliance of her letters left no doubt as to her talent.’ — Thomas Shapcott, in A Tribute to Gwen Harwood, Adelaide Festival Writers’ Week 1996, reprinted in Australian Book Review

First published in 1990, this collection won the The Age Book of the Year Award for Non-Fiction in that same year.

Gwen Harwood AO (1920–1995) was an award-winning poet. Her collection Bone Scan (1988) won the John Bray Award for Poetry (1990) and The C.J. Dennis Prize for Poetry (1989). In 1977, she was awarded the Robert Frost Medallion, in 1978 she was the recipient of the Patrick White Award, and in 1994 she received the UK Society of Authors’ Cholmondeley Award, an annual award founded to ‘recognise the achievement and distinction of individual poets’.


Book cover
Bluestocking in Patagonia

by Anne Whitehead
Ligature untapped
genre Biography · Non-fiction

Dame Mary Gilmore’s portrait is on the ten dollar note. But before she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire for contributions to literature, she was Mary Cameron, a schoolteacher and feminist, and one of a group of Australians who, at the end of the nineteenth century, attempted to create a socialist Utopia in Paraguay. Historian Anne Whitehead retraces her steps in a compelling investigation that blends biography, history and contemporary travelogue.

‘This splendid and fascinating book is brilliantly balanced as part memoir, part well-researched recreation of the experiences of the young Mary Gilmore as inamorata of Henry Lawson, as radical, wife, Paraguayan and Patagonian settler, and as abidingly Australian soul.’ — Thomas Keneally

‘It deserves a popular success. From beginning to end, in its readability, its engaging narrative and its shrewd evocation of personalities and places past and present, it meets the classical criterion of being both instructive and entertaining.’ — Jennifer Strauss, Australian Book Review

‘I shall take away Bluestocking in Patagonia by Anne Whitehead, the story of Mary Gilmore, poet, pioneer, utopian and sheep-shearer’s wife, whose face is on the $10 note. I need to know how it got there.’ —Hilary Mantel, Arts Telegraph, UK (Summer reading)

‘“Yea! I have lived” was how she [Mary Gilmore] began one poem, and reading Anne Whitehead’s spry account of her life, it is hard not to agree.’ —Nicola Walker, Times Literary Supplement

First published in 2003, Bluestocking in Patagonia was shortlisted for the Magarey National Biography Award and is the companion book to Anne Whitehead’s award-winning Paradise Mislaid, also part of the Untapped Collection.

Anne Whitehead is an award-winning author, historian, historian and screenwriter. Her most recent book is Betsy and the Emperor: The true story of Napoleon, a pretty girl, a Regency rake and an Australian colonial misadventure (2015). For more information visit www.annewhitehead.com.


Book cover
Arthur Tange

by Peter Edwards
Ligature untapped
genre Biography

Sir Arthur Tange was one of Australia’s most influential public servants during the latter half of the 20th century. This award-winning biography examines the career of a man who served the Chifley, Menzies, Gorton, McMahon, Whitlam and Fraser governments at a time when department heads still wielded considerable power.

Reviewing the book in the Australian Financial Review on its initial publication in 2006, Geoffrey Barker declared it was ‘a book that deserves to be compulsory reading for all Australians interested in foreign policy, national security and the complex relationships between senior public servants and their political masters. Edwards has, in fact, used the life of Arthur Tange (1914–2001) as a prism through which to reveal enduring issues in Australian foreign and defence policy and in national government administration from World War II to the present. Edwards’s portrayal of the legendary bureaucrat who headed and shaped both the Foreign Affairs and Defence departments fully captures his complexity and controversial personality. Tange was intelligent, fearless, autocratic, hierarchical and foul-tempered – and capable of charm and kindness. He was also, as his foreign and defence policy advice to coalition and Labor governments revealed, a patriot who consistently sought to place Australia’s national interests first and to ensure a realistic match between Australia’s international ambitions and its economic capacities.’

Arthur Tange won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for History and the WA Premier’s Non-Fiction Award, and was short-listed for the National Biography Award.

Peter Edwards AM is an acclaimed writer and historian. His other works include A Nation at War: Australian politics, society and diplomacy during the Vietnam War 1965–1975 (1997), Australia and the Vietnam War (2014) and Law, Politics and Intelligence: A life of Robert Hope (2020).


Book cover
Alexander Pearce of Macquarie Harbour

by Dan Sprod
Ligature untapped
genre Biography · History · Non-fiction

Alexander Pearce was an Irishman who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land—which was to become Tasmania—in 1819. Transported for the relatively minor crime of theft, he became determined to escape the colony’s harsh conditions. He fled, was caught, and sentenced to the notoriously brutal penal colony on Sarah Island. He escaped again and, unlike those who escaped with him, survived. Drawing on contemporary records, including Pearce’s confessions, Dan Sprod carefully pieces together the truth about the infamous ‘cannibal convict’. First published in 1977.

Dan Sprod (1924–2018) was a Tasmanian author. In addition to Alexander Pearce of Macquarie Harbour, his books include Proud Intrepid Heart (1989), The Usurper (2001), Leichhardt’s Expeditioners (2006), The Odd Mr Sprod (2009) and Van Diemen’s Land Revealed (2009).