12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Royal Historical Society of Victoria
Australia’s Gifted Lost Generation of World War 1
Speaker: Dr Ross McMullin
For Australia, a new nation with a relatively small population, the death of 60,000 soldiers during the Great War was calamitous. As a result, Australians evaluating the consequences of the conflict have tended to focus, not surprisingly, on the collective impact of the numbing number of losses.
That there must have been exceptional individuals among them has been implicitly understood, but these special Australians are unknown today. Ross McMullin’s latest book, Farewell, Dear People: Biographies of Australia’s Lost Generation, contains extended biographies of ten extraordinary but long forgotten men whose loss was devastating to the nation as well as to their families.
Dr McMullin’s illustrated presentation will examine the remarkable stories he has retrieved. Geoff McCrae, the book’s first biography, was a budding architect from Melbourne’s best-known creative dynasty who combined an endearing personality with his family’s flair for writing and drawing. There is also an internationally acclaimed medical researcher; a Western Australian Rhodes scholar assured of a shining future in the law and/or politics; a popular farmer who became the inspiration for the celebrated film Gallipoli; a military officer described by his brigadier as potentially an Australian Kitchener; an engineer who excelled during Mawson’s Antarctic mission; a rising Labor star; a talented barrister with a vivid personality; a Tasmanian footballer who dazzled at the highest level; and a visionary vigneron from South Australia.
Historian and biographer Ross McMullin has written extensively about Australia in World War I and Australian political history.
His biography Pompey Elliott won awards for biography and literature, and Will Dyson: Australia’s Radical Genius was shortlisted for the National Biography Award.
He wrote the ALP centenary history The Light on the Hill: The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991, and also So Monstrous a Travesty: Chris Watson and the World’s First National Labour Government.
His latest book, Farewell, Dear People: Biographies of Australia’s Lost Generation, is a multi-biography about Australians of exceptional promise who died in the Great War.