In the inaugural issue of the Journal of Pacific History in 1966 Jim Davidson, the first Professor of Pacific History at Australian National University, considered the historiography of the island groups of the Pacific Ocean and called for innovative methodologies to interpret the ‘multi-cultural situations’ of island communities.(1) His manifesto appeared as
History at the Crossroads. Australians and the Past is the latest work from Paul Ashton and Paula Hamilton, founding editors of Public History Review and the co-directors of the Australian Centre for Public History based at the University of Technology in Sydney.
One of the connecting strands in this major biography of the Australian historian W. K. Hancock (1898–1988) is the question of his shifting reputation. Hancock was a son of the vicarage, who took out a brilliant First at the University of Melbourne. Arriving in Oxford, via a Rhodes Scholarship, as ‘a dreadfully purposeful young man’, he went on to a glittering career.
The historian is like an actor on a revolving stage. He has a brief time in which to recite his words. He’s got to hold the audience. He must also hope that he has used the time on the stage to teach and write about things that really matter ... He must ...
even from his mid-twenties, he was a relentless self-promoter, a writer possessed of an inner conviction to succeed and an overwhelming hunger to be heard (p. 226)
In her contribution to Scholars at War: Australasian Social Scientists, 1939–1945, Cassandra Pybus recounts the story of a late night drinking session in Melbourne in the middle of 1944.
The author of this very short monograph is well-known in New Zealand as a biographer and historian.