Must-Read Histories is marks the launch of a new website, History Speaks. Fully searchable and interactive, it features Australia’s leading historians discussing historical research, and the place of history in wider debates. In Must-Read Histories, History Speaks contributors ‘go live’ to discuss the question: what are the indispensable works of Australian history?
Which titles do our leading historians and writers nominate as the history books we should all read and know? Manning Clark’s A History of Australiaor Robert Hughes' The Fatal Shore? Anne Summers' Damned Whores and God’s Police or Henry Reynolds' Why Weren’t We Told? Donald Horne’s The Lucky Countryor Tim Flannery’s The Future-Eaters?
Which works of art most acutely reveal the Australian experience? Does Peter Carey’s novel The True History of the Kelly Gang evoke the Kelly story better than any history? Is Kate Grenville’s Secret River a better evocation of first contact in Australia than Inga Clendinnen’s Dancing with Strangers?
Books, monographs, plays, novels, even films and poetry are all up for discussion as the nation’s leading historians outline and debate their choices for the must-read texts on Australian history.
Stuart Macintyre, Professor of History at the University of Melbourne, chooses Brian Fitzpatrick’s The Australian Commonwealth(1956).
Marcia Langton, Professor of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, nominates Watkin Tench’s A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, in New South Wales, Including an Accurate Description of the Situation of the Colony; and of its Natural Productions; Taken on the Spot (1793).
And Tim Soutphommasane, Research Fellow at Monash University’s National Centre for Australian Studies, turns his eye toRussel Ward’s The Australian Legend (1958).
The event will be hosted by Dr Clare Wright from La Trobe University. Clare is a noted scholar (author of Beyond the Ladies Lounge) and public historian. She is well known to ABC audiences from The Einstein Factor, and next year presents her new ABC documentary Utopia Girls, which charts the story of how Australian women were first in the world to win full political equality.
Stuart Macintyre has been chair of the Heritage Council of Victoria since 2015, and is regarded as one of Australia's most influential historians.
He's the former Dean of Arts at the University of Melbourne, and is Emeritus Laureate Professor of the University of Melbourne and a Professorial Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies.
Tim Soutphommasane is a political theorist and human rights advocate. From 2013 to 2018 he was Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. His previous books include Reclaiming Patriotism, The Virtuous Citizen, Don’t Go Back To Where You Came From and I’m Not Racist But... He has been a columnist for the Age and the Weekend Australian.
Professor Marcia Langton AM holds the Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne.
La Trobe University historian Associate Professor Clare Wright has worked as an author, academic, political speechwriter, historical consultant, and radio and TV broadcaster. Her latest book, You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians who won the vote and inspired the world, has been praised by Senator Penny Wong and Sr Anne Summers AO. Her earlier book, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, won the 2014 Stella Prize and the 2014 NIB Award for Literature and was shortlisted for many other awards.