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Hugh Anderson, historian

August 23, 2022 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

$10 – $20

We are delighted that Professor Frank Bongiorno will be delivering the inaugural RHSV Hugh Anderson Lecture, a new addition to our Distinguished Lecturer series.

“Hugh Anderson (1927-2017) was a scholar of formidable breadth, productivity and versatility. While it is as a folklorist that he is arguably best known both in Australia and abroad, Anderson’s prolific output also included biography, bibliography, history, school textbooks and documentary collections. His range of interests was very wide: Anderson seemed as comfortable in writing about John Pascoe Fawkner as Squizzy Taylor, as at home with an Aboriginal gumleaf player and a Sydney street poet as with the exquisite verse of John Shaw Neilson or the stately poetry of Bernard O’Dowd. This lecture will consider Anderson specifically as a historian and biographer. While it should not be pigeon-holed, Anderson’s historical and biographical writing incorporated many of the materials, perspectives and insights derived from folklore studies, and he treated literary creativity as central to telling the Melbourne, Victorian and Australian stories. Anderson’s boundary-riding between history, biography, folklore and literature was remarkably productive for him, and it was not unusual among writers with his radical-nationalist politics in the middle decades of the twentieth century. I argue in this lecture for the significance of Anderson as a historian and biographer working outside academia and across a diverse cultural domain, at a time when universities were moving toward a sharper focus on specialised research, theory and discipline-based knowledge – in ways that both deepened and limited understandings of Australian history and culture.”

Frank Bongiorno is Professor of History at the Australian National University where he was head from July 2018 to June 2021. Born in Nhill, he grew up in Melbourne and is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University. Frank has been a lecturer at the ANU, Griffith University, the University of New England and King’s College London.  He has also been Smuts Visiting Fellow in Commonwealth Studies at the University of Cambridge. The author of The Sex Lives of Australians: A History (2012) and The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia (2015), Frank is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, the Australian Academy of Humanities and the Royal Historical Society. He is a Member of the Order of Australia.

Professor Frank Bongiorno AM

Please note that when you buy a ticket to this event you will automatically be sent a confirmation email. If you don’t see this email in your in-box please check your Spam Mail or Junk Mail in-boxes as well. Those attending by Zoom will be sent their Zoom log-in details 24 hours before the event.

The event will start at 5:30pm with drinks for those attending the RHSV and at 6pm for those logging in via ZOOM.


Photo caption:

Portrait of Hugh Anderson seated in the interview room, Oral History Section, National Library of Australia, 1 June 2000 [picture] / Damian McDonald


August 23, 2022
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
$10 – $20
Event Category:


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
03 9326 9288


RHSV, Gallery Downstairs
239 A'Beckett Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000 Australia
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03 9326 9288