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Past Imperfect: Writing Australian History


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For this Fifth Estate discussion, Sally Warhaft brings together two prominent historians for a conversation about their careers, and how they have each navigated the changing tropes and traditions of Australian history writing. What role do contemporary historians play in shaping the way all Australians remember – and reckon with – the past?

Geoffrey Blainey is the author of more than 40 books, including The Rush That Never Ended, The Story of Australia’s People, and, perhaps most famously, The Tyranny of Distance, which has been in print since 1966. Clare Wright is an eminent academic and broadcaster and the Stella Prize-winning author of The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka and You Daughters of Freedom. Both writers have brought their research to large and enthralled readerships.

How does writing about the past shape the possibilities of the future? On Tuesday 29 October, Blainey and Wright join us to discuss their approaches to writing Australian history: warts, beauty spots and blind spots.

Hill of Content will be our bookseller for this event.


Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians’ lives in the fog of ... Read more

Geoffrey Blainey

Professor Geoffrey Blainey’s first book was completed when he was in his early twenties. Since then he has written another thirty-five, including Triumph of the Nomads, The Rush That Never Ended, The Tyranny of Distance and other well known books on Australia’s history. His more recent b... Read more

Clare Wright

‘I am a feminist therefore I commit feminist acts. I’m not going to undermine the political importance of what I do.’ La Trobe University historian Professor Clare Wright has worked as an author, academic, political speechwriter, historical consultant, and radio and TV broadcaster. Her latest... Read more


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