Joyce Morgan: Martin Sharp


Martin Sharp: cover image.

‘Martin wore tight pants that were striped red, white and blue, like a Union Jack, and an embroidered Afghan vest. In front of his face he carried, like a lollipop, a smile on a stick. As he went, he bowed to passers-by. Even on King’s Road, he stood out.’

Martin Sharp’s art was as singular as his style. He blurred the boundaries of high art and low with images of Dylan, Hendrix and naked flower children that defined an era. Along the way the irreverent Australian was charged with obscenity and collaborated with Eric Clapton as he drew rock stars and reprobates into his world.

In this richly told and beautifully written biography, Joyce Morgan captures the loneliness of a privileged childhood, the heady days of the underground magazine Oz as well as the exuberant creativity of Swinging London and beyond.

Sharp pursued his quixotic dream to realise van Gogh’s Yellow House in Australia. He obsessively championed eccentric singer Tiny Tim and was haunted by the awful deaths at Sydney’s Luna Park. Charismatic and paradoxical, he became a recluse whose phone never stopped ringing.

Martin Sharp, “Young Mo”, poster, 1978. Thanks to the Estate of the late Martin Sharp.

There was no one like Martin Sharp. When he died, he was described as a stranger in a strange land who left behind a trail of stardust.

 

Valerie Lawson: Mary Poppins, She Wrote

Valerie Lawson: Mary Poppins, She Wrote

Mary Poppins She Wrote cover image
Mary Poppins She Wrote cover image
The story of Mary Poppins, the quintessentially English and utterly magical children’s nanny, is remarkable enough. She flew into the lives of the Banks family in a children’s book that is now hailed as a classic, then became a household name when Julie Andrews stepped into the starring role in Disney’s hugely successful film. Now she is a musical sensation all over again in ‘Mary Poppins’, the musical. But the story of Mary Poppins’s creator is just as unexpected and outstanding.

The fabulous nanny was conceived by an Australian, Pamela Lyndon Travers, who in 1924 left Sydney for London, where her career as a writer blossomed.

She travelled in the elite literary circles of the time and, most famously, clashed with Walt Disney over the adaptation of her books into film. Disney accused her of vanity for ‘thinking you know more about Mary Poppins than I do’. This struggle formed the center of the recent movie “Saving Mister Banks”, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.

Like her mysterious character, Travers remained inscrutable and enigmatic to the end of her ninety-six remarkable years. Valerie Lawson’s illuminating biography provides the only glimpse into the mind of a writer who fervently believed that ‘Everyday life is the miracle’.

Andrew Main

Andrew Main
Andrew Main
Andrew Main

Andrew has been a financial reporter since 1979, albeit with a brief but exciting interlude as an institutional stockbroker in Sydney, Paris and London between 1987 and 1992.

 

Other People's Money, cover image
Other People’s Money, cover image

He spent about 14 years with the Australian Financial Review as a senior reporter between 1993 and 2007, having previously done his cadetship at The West Australian and moved to the Sydney Morning Herald in 1984.

He’s written a book on the collapse of HIH Insurance and a biography of stockbroker Rene Rivkin, and was also part of the AFR team that won the 2004 Gold Walkley Award.

Rivkin biography, cover image
Rivkin biography, cover image
In his own words, he ‘tries to make business comprehensible and interesting’ and does that as Business Editor for The Australian as well as in his regular spot on 702 Mornings on ABC Radio with Deborah Cameron, Tuesdays after the 9am radio news on the ABC.

Murray Waldren

waldren

Photo, left: Murray Waldren.

Christopher O’Doherty, aka Reg Mombassa, has infiltrated our culture for more than thirty years with a unique, laconic view of our world. His wit, sense of mischief and larrikin energy resonated in the songs and performances of one of Australia’s most beloved bands, Mental As Anything.

mombassa-cvrYet long before he became a Mental or transformed Mambo shirts into collector’s items, Mombassa was first and foremost an artist. From his idiosyncratic pop art to the delicately realised fine art landscapes and images that celebrate and elevate the suburban, his artworks are sought by collectors around the world. Who else could stage the biggest one-man art show in history at the Sydney Olympics? Who else could have Elvis Costello producing his records, or Johnny Rotten and Crowded House seeking his record cover designs?

mombassa-wolvesBut there is much more to Reg Mombassa, as fellow New Zealand-born writer and painter Murray Waldren shows in this illuminated journey, illustrated with over 300 artworks, photographs, posters and band memorabilia.

See Reg Mombassa’s page.

Prior works

Dining Out With Mr Lunch, a collection of literary profiles, was published by the University of Queensland Press in 1999.

Murray’s analytical feature on the Moran trial, A Family Act, was shortlisted for a Walkley Award.

He then went on to write a book on the turbulent Moran family, Moran v Moran, which was published by HarperCollins Australia in 2001.

Andrew Tink

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Australia 1901-2001 — A Narrative History

Andrew Tink’s superb book tells the story of Australia in the twentieth century, from Federation to the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

It was a century marked by the trauma of war and the despair of the Depression, balanced by extraordinary achievements in sport, science and the arts. And it witnessed the emergence of a mainly harmonious society, underpinned by a political system that worked most of the time.

Tink’s story is driven by people: prime ministers, soldiers, shopkeepers, singers, footballers and farmers, be they men or women, Australian-born, immigrant or Aboriginal. He brings the decades to life, writing with empathy, humour and insight to create a narrative that is as entertaining as it is illuminating.

Air Disaster Canberra: The Plane Crash that Destroyed a Government

At 11am on August 13, 1940, with Australia having been at war for almost a year, a dual-controlled Hudson bomber, the A16-97, crashed into a hillside near Canberra airport. In what is still Canberra’s worst disaster in terms of loss of life, all ten aboard died, including the chief of the general staff, Cyril Brudenell White, and three of Robert Gordon Menzies’ closest cabinet supporters: minister for the army Geoffrey Street, minister for air James Fairbairn and information minister Henry Gullett.

NewSouth, 309pp, $45 (HB)

Prior works

Lord Sydney: The Life and Times of Tommy Townshend
Just who was the man whose name is proudly borne by Australia’s oldest city, and by another city in Canada? A John Bull figure, full of bumptious ambition and self-confidence, Sydney had a remarkable political career, largely in opposition. He had sympathised with rebellious American colonists while holding true to British interests, and in 1782 he led in settling the peace between Americans and Britons. As a peer he chose the name Sydney for his barony in memory of his distant uncle Algernon Sidney, beheaded in 1683 for writing ‘the people of England… may change or take away kings’. This very fine biography is a story to savour.
Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2011

William Charles Wentworth,  Allen & Unwin in 2009.
This is the story of the man Manning Clark described as ‘Australia’s greatest native son’. Best known as one of the first Europeans to cross the Blue Mountains, Wentworth led a life full of firsts. One of the first born Australians of European parents, the first Australian author to be published and co-founder of Australia’s first independent newspaper, Wentworth gave the colonists an Australian voice. One of Australia’s first barristers who fought for trial by jury, for the first Parliament in Australia and for self-government in an Act the British called ‘a legislative declaration of independence’ Wentworth was a physical and intellectual giant. Ruthless when it suited him, he purchased the South Island of New Zealand for a pittance until a furious Governor made him give it back. With his rough charm, colonial cunning and English education, Wentworth was equally at ease addressing a rowdy meeting of ex-convicts as he was lobbying Ministers in the corridors of Whitehall.


Following eight years at the Bar, Andrew Tink spent nineteen years in the New South Wales Parliament, including eleven as a Shadow Minister and three as Shadow Leader of the House. After stepping down in 2007, Andrew became a Visiting Fellow at Macquarie University’s Law School, where he concentrates on his writing.

Susan Swingler

swingler-cvr
The House of Fiction:
Leonard, Susan and Elizabeth Jolley

One daughter, two wives, and the man they all loved…
The House of Fiction is a memoir about a daughter’s quest for her absent father. It sheds a new and surprising light on one of Australia’s most important writers — and the complex fabrications Elizabeth Jolley weaved in her personal life across time.

jolley-leonard-monica

Photo, right:
Leonard Jolley and
Monica Knight
(later Elizabeth Jolley),
late 1930s-early 1940s.


Susan Swingler was born in Birmingham, UK, and lives in rural Gloucestershire. Her jobs have ranged from freelance photographer to gardener, university lecturer to curator and researcher. She and her husband travel widely and have made regular visits to Australia since the late 1970s.

Margaret Simons

simons-stokes-cvr-loresKerry Stokes: Self-Made Man

Kerry Stokes came into the world with no advantages. Unlike his rival magnates, he built his empire from nothing. But what has he discarded along the way?

Prior works

Journalism at the Crossroads

The Australian mainstream press is in crisis, and the future of Australian journalism is uncertain. In response to plunging sales and profitability, and an inexorable increase in online and social-media platforms, the Fairfax and News Limited organisations have embarked on major cost-cutting and restructuring exercises.

World rights: Scribe


Margaret Simons’ first novel The Ruthless Garden won the Angus and Robertson Bookworld prize for new novelists in 1993.
A collection of her gardening columns, titled Wheelbarrows, was published by New Holland in 1999.
Her last novel was The Truth Teller.
Margaret’s investigative book on the inner workings of the parliamentary press gallery in Canberra, Fit to Print, was released in 1999 by UNSW Press.
In 2003 Hodder Headline released The Meeting of the Waters: Secret Women’s Business. Australia is the world’s oldest continent. The Murray is its longest river. The Meeting of the Waters is the story of what happened at the mouth of the Murray, when modern western European culture met older indigenous ways in a dispute about the building of a bridge.
A recent title is Resurrection in a Bucket, a book on the philosophy and implications of composting, published by Allen & Unwin.
simons-fraser

Margaret has also completed a Quarterly Essay for Black Inc. on Mark Latham.

Her biography of Malcolm Fraser was published by Melbourne University Press in 2010 and won the Book of the Year award in the 2011 New South Wales Premiers’ awards.

Andrew Riemer

riemer

A scholar, essayist and cultural journalist, Andrew was born in Budapest and arrived in Australia in 1947. In his latest book, Between the Fish and the Mudcake, he reminisces on writers, books, food, music and places.

The first volume of his memoirs, Inside Outside — Life Between Two Worlds, won the NSW Ethnic Affairs Commission Prize in 1992. This was followed by The Habsburg Café (1992); America with Subtitles (1995); and Sandstone Gothic (1998).

Andrew’s biography of Robert Hughes, Hughes: End of Modernism, was published by Duffy and Snellgrove in 2001.

He has recently turned to the translation of French literature. His translation of Ce Que Racontait by Catherine Rey was published by Giramondo.

A new non-fiction title, My Family’s History of Smoking, was published by Melbourne University Press in 2008.

Sarah Minns

Kath’s Miracle

minns-cvr“This book isn’t a manual on how to survive cancer or have your prayers heard… I’ve had five kids, been married twice, owned and lost a small business and a house. I’ve known what it is like to come close to death, and how to live again after that. I’ve been involved in the process of proving a miracle and making a saint. And I have discovered so much along the way… My hope is that you’ll find some comfort from my story.”

When Kathleen Evans was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, she was given weeks to live. All she had left was prayer. She was sent a relic of Mary MacKillop’s clothing — she wore it, and friends and family joined in praying to the founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Ten months later, the cancer had completely — miraculously — vanished. No matter what your religious beliefs, Kath’s message of hope and redemption will lift your spirit.

All Kathleen Evans’ royalties are donated to the Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

Australian and New Zealand Rights: Penguin Australia


Kathleen Evans is mother to five and grandmother to twenty-one. When she isn’t on the road exploring Australia with her husband, Barry, she lives in Lake Macquarie on the NSW central coast.

Sarah Minns is a writer who lives in Sydney with her husband and three daughters. Kath’s Miracle is her first book.

Robert Milliken

roxon-cvr2
Robert Milliken is an acclaimed international journalist. His latest work is Mother of Rock: The Lillian Roxon Story, a biography of Lillian Roxon, the fast-living Australian journalist who compiled the world’s first Rock Encyclopedia and who died tragically in New York in 1973 aged 41.

It was published by Black Inc. in Australia in 2002. US publisher Thunder’s Mouth Press (at http://www.thundersmouth.com/) released their edition in 2005, and a new edition was released by Black Ink in 2010.

A documentary on Lillian Roxon, inspired by the biography, premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2010, and was shown on SBS-TV. Film rights to the book have been sold to Decade Films.

In 1986 Robert published No Conceivable Injury (Penguin) regarded as the definitive account of the British atomic weapon tests at Maralinga, in the Australian desert.