Stuart Macintyre

Stuart Macintyre is a professor of history at the University of Melbourne. He is the author of the fourth volume of the Oxford History of Australia, The Succeeding Age, 1901-1942.

Founding Moments

Stuart Macintyre, 11 March 1993

Tasmania’s prodigal son, Peter Conrad, suggested recently that his island-state had ‘unwritten its own history’ in accordance with ‘a self-protective incuriosity about origins’. Tasmania’s origins lay in an act of genocidal conquest and a penal experiment, both of which were so recent and so omnipresent in their effect as to make recollection intolerable. There are certainly striking instances of this desire for amnesia. The reiterated claim that the Aboriginal inhabitants of Tasmania were extinct effaced both their demise and their uncomfortable presence. And the story is still told of the historian working in the state archives who was surprised to be asked to take tea with the Governor. His Excellency wanted reassurance that he was not chasing convict ancestors among Tasmania’s leading families.

Histories of Australia

Stuart Macintyre, 28 September 1989

An older generation of my compatriots would regard an Oxford history of Australia as an oxymoron. Quite early in the preparation of my own volume in the series of that name, I became interested in Bill Somerville, a trade-unionist who for nearly forty years served as the workers’ representative on the industrial tribunal of Western Australia. A skilled craftsman (his union, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, rejoiced in the title of ‘the tin gods’), he grew up, with the Australian labour movement, in the hungry Nineties when troops were used to crush the shearers, miners and transport workers. His whole life was dedicated to the creation of institutions that would prevent the recurrence of such hardships and injustices, and his beliefs – rather, his certainties – provide a roll-call of the advanced nationalist programme.’

Letter

Outside Australia

18 February 1988

Like a number of other Australian readers, I enjoy the London Review greatly. Like a fair few, I suspect, my pleasure that the journal has found space for Australian publications and Australian writers is tempered by concern at the rather narrow range of those writers and especially the heavy reliance on some of the expats. I admire Peter Porter, Clive James, et al: but somehow they sustain the impression...

Bullshit and Beyond

Clive James, 18 February 1988

In its short history, Australia has weathered several storms. By world standards they were minor, but at home they loomed large. The First World War was a rude awakening; the Great Depression hit...

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