The Blackburns

Private lives, public ambitions

Carolyn Rasmussen
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The Blackburns

Published

17 May 2019

ISBN

9780522876178

Pages

432

Imprint

Melbourne University Press

The Blackburns

Private lives, public ambitions

Carolyn Rasmussen
When socialist barrister and aspiring member of parliament Maurice Blackburn met Doris Hordern, ardent feminist and campaign secretary to Vida Goldstein, neither had marriage in their imagined futures. But they fell in love-with each other as much as with their individual aspirations to change the world for the better. Theirs would be an exacting partnership as they held one another to the highest ideals. They worked as elected members of parliaments and community activists, influencing conscription laws, benefits for working men and women, atomic bomb tests, civil rights and Indigenous recognition. Together, they shook Australia.
When socialist barrister and aspiring member of parliament Maurice Blackburn met Doris Hordern, ardent feminist and campaign secretary to Vida Goldstein, neither had marriage in their imagined futures. But they fell in love-with each other as much as with their individual aspirations to change the world for the better. Theirs would be an exacting partnership as they held one another to the highest ideals. They worked as elected members of parliaments and community activists, influencing conscription laws, benefits for working men and women, atomic bomb tests, civil rights and Indigenous recognition. Together, they shook Australia.

In her introduction, Rasmussen states that one of her goals in writing this joint biography was to release Maurice and Doris Blackburn from other people’s footnotes. In presenting this fleshed out, likeable portrait of two vital, influential people who deserve to be more famous than they are, she has succeeded admirably.”
Jacqueline Kent, Australian Book Review

Maurice and Doris Blackburn were major figures in the history of the Australian labour movement and feminist and Indigenous activism in this country. Maurice’s name lives on in the influential national law firm he founded, but their many contributions to principled decency in Australian public life are now largely forgotten. They needed, as Carolyn Rasmussen puts it, to be “rescued from the footnotes”. In this meticulously comprehensive biography, she has succeeded admirably in doing just that.”
Gareth Evans

A fascinating journey with two idealistic activists through fifty years of progressive causes: from opposition to conscription and nuclear testing at Maralinga, to support for the labour movement and the struggle for indigenous citizenship.”
Judith Brett

Carolyn Rasmussen

Carolyn Rasmussen

Carolyn Rasmussen completed post-graduate studies in labour history and the peace movement at the University of Melbourne where she is currently an Honorary Fellow. Her work as a public historian since 1985 has ranged over the history of Victorian public institutions, the history of science and technology, education history, the involvement of women in all of the above, and biography. In parallel with this work she has maintained a deep engagement with Victorian labour history…

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Hardback
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