Hirst, John Bradley 1942-
HIRST, John Bradley 1942-
PERSONAL: Born 1942. Education: University of Adelaide, Ph. D.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—East 129 David Myers Building, La Trobe University, Victoria 3086, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, associate professor and reader in history.
MEMBER: Commonwealth Government's Civic Education Group (chair), Film Australia (board member).
Adelaide and the Country, 1870-1917; Their Social and Political Relationship, Melbourne University Press (Carlton, Australia), 1973.
Convict Society and Its Enemies: A History of EarlyNew South Wales, Allen & Unwin (Boston, MA), 1983.
The World of Albert Facey, History Institute of Victoria/Allen & Unwin (North Sydney, Australia), 1992.
(Editor with Graeme Davison and Stuart Macintyre), The Oxford Companion to Australian History, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Australia's Democracy: A Short History, Allen & Unwin (Sydney, Australia), 2002.
Also author of The Strange Birth of Colonial Democracy, 1988.
SIDELIGHTS: John Bradley Hirst is considered one of Australia's most important historians. His books have covered various aspects of Australian history, especially the republican movement. He, along with Stuart Macintyre and Graeme Davison, co-edited The Oxford Companion to Australian History, published by Oxford University Press in 2001.
In The Sentimental Nation: The Making of the Australian Commonwealth Hirst charts the course of the birth of Australia as a single political entity. He contends that the people of the continent were ready to regard themselves as a country with a distinct and independent identity well before the idea found an organized political expression. He gathers material from a wide variety of areas, including poetry and cartoons, to make his argument. Hirst suggests that some of the principal shapers of the Australian Commonwealth regarded the movement not as the undoing of the British Empire, but rather as the beginning of the process of the federalization of the empire. John Ramsden in the Times Literary Supplement hailed Hirst's argument as a cogent one, and observed that the historian "writes with lucidity and wit."
Hirst served as a member of the prime minister's republic advisory committee, which was assigned the task of collecting information and suggestions from various parts of the society in order to understand what the citizenry would like to see in a new constitution. The author favored the republican form of government, and his book A Republican Manifesto presents a proposed constitution and the arguments for it. Law Institute Journal contributor Graham Fricke considered the book thorough, direct, and sensible. Robert Murray in Quadrant expressed similar praise, concluding that Hirst's study is the best among several published on Australian republicanism in 1993.
The Oxford Companion to Australian History contains 1,600 entries by 317 contributors. The book covers a wide range of topics, from history and fine arts to popular culture and slang. Times Literary Supplement critic Geoffrey Blaine admired the work's scope and balance, and concluded that "Many of the major articles in The Oxford Companion to Australian History say something new with clarity and pithiness. The three editors deserve praise, not least because they themselves have written many of the major articles, commenting with insight even on fields that are not their own."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, March, 2000, D.S. Azzolina, review of TheOxford Companion to Australian History, pp. 1278-1279.
Law Institute Journal, August, 1994, Graham Fricke, review of The Republican Manifesto, p. 757.
Quadrant, April, 1994, Robert Murray, review of TheRepublican Manifesto, pp. 76-78; December, 1998, Robert Murray, review of The Oxford Companion to Australian History, p. 77.
Times Literary Supplement, October 1, 1999, Geoffrey Blainey, p. 8; May 10, 2002, John Ramsden, review of The Sentimental Nation, p. 13.