Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel: A comment

November 9, 2009 at 8:51 am (Uncategorized) ()

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is a great and entertaining read, as long as you are aware that you are not reading history but a construction of the writer’s imagination. 

  Thomas Cromwell, the benign and loving family man who merely reads the signs of the times and went with the sociological and theological spirit prevailing, and facilitated the policies of his master, Henry VIII, to my mind is a little over the top.

  There is very little evidence that the Reformation in England was a popular movement. It was a policy of the King’s imposed on the English people by a monarch to get a divorce and acquire church property. This is borne out by many historians such as James Gairdner, Eamon Duffy.

  The false impression is given that significant numbers of the population were hungry for Tyndale’s Bible and were questioning traditional Catholic doctrine and practices. The young boy denying the real presence in the Eucharist is a colourful but unlikely event at the time.

  History has painted Thomas Cromwell as a self-serving and efficient administrator but still a complete bastard. Whereas in Mantel’s novel, Thomas More is the objectionable bastard in spite of the positive assessment of scholars like Erasmus and the modern day Anglican and Catholic Churches.

  Given all this, I must say, I enjoyed reading the book, so you too also enjoy it, but don’t delude yourself that it’s history.

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Interesting inscription in “Somewhere in New Guinea”

November 6, 2009 at 11:23 pm (Goya Henry) (, , , , )

Frank Clune Goya Henry

Frank Clune, of course, was a distinguished Australian author and Goya Henry was a famous Australian aviator and master of small ships in PNG.

I recently purchased Somewhere in New Guinea with this remarkable dedication from Frank to Goya inside the book.

Clune, Francis Patrick (Frank) (1893 – 1971)


27 November 1893,Darlinghurst, Sydney,New South Wales,Australia


11 March 1971,Darlinghurst, Sydney,New South Wales,Australia

Cultural Heritage:

Religious Influence:


Francis Patrick (Frank) Clune (1893 – 1971), by unknown photographer, 1930-33, courtesy of State Library of New South Wales. Original : P1/C (BM) . .
Image Details

CLUNE, FRANCIS PATRICK (1893-1971), author, journalist and accountant, was born on 27 November 1893 at Darlinghurst, Sydney, son of George Clune, a labourer from Ireland, and his Victorian-born wife Theresa Cullen. Educated in Sydney at St Colombkille’s and St Benedict’s Catholic schools, Frank grew up at Redfern and took a job as a newsboy. He left school at 14, and claimed to have worked as a messenger-boy in the government printer’s office, to have run away to become an itinerant bush labourer and to have had twenty-five different jobs by the age of 17. After joining the United States Army in Kansas on 26 October 1911, he subsequently deserted and was a seaman when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 10 May 1915. Serving with the 16th Battalion at Gallipoli from 2 August, he was wounded in both legs five days later and evacuated to a hospital in Cairo; he returned to Sydney in November and was discharged on 29 March 1916. At Woollahra in a civil ceremony on 31 October that year he married a tailoress Maud Elizabeth Roy; they were divorced in 1920.

Employed as a commercial traveller, Clune married a 21-year-old saleswoman Thelma Cecily Smith on 9 May 1923 at the district registrar’s office, Waverley; she was to appear in his columns as ‘Brown Eyes’ and to become the proprietor of an art gallery. At night he studied accountancy and in 1924 established a tax consultancy, registering Clune Accounting Systems Ltd in 1928. He lived at Vaucluse from 1930 and belonged to the New South Wales Golf Club. His adventures at sea, as a trooper in the American cavalry, at Gallipoli, bootlegging in Canada, touring Queensland in the chorus of an opera company, and as a mouse-trap salesman provided the basis of his first book, Try Anything Once (1933). It was an immediate success and sold tens of thousands of copies.

From 1933 to 1936 Clune developed the formula which he was to use for many other books: Rolling Down the Lachlan(1935) and Roaming Round the Darling (1936) were speedily-written accounts of his travels as a tax-consultant in western New South Wales and of an expedition to Coopers Creek, Queensland. His combination of historical detail, narratives of explorers and contemporary political observations found an eager market. Following the example of Ion Idriess, Clune used a rough-and-ready prose style and expressed his sense of nationalism. His travel books, again employing his trusted formula, covered Europe, the Pacific, the Middle East, Asia and North America. By 1952 he estimated that his twenty-three books had sold over a half a million copies.

Clune (and his supporters) took his writing seriously, seeing it as an expression of simple Australian virtues and unvarnished Australian speech. Others were more sceptical. Kenneth Slessor met him in Cairo in 1942 and wryly noted that Clune, although an honorary commissioner of the Australian Comforts Fund, spent most of his time arranging free travel and collecting guide books as sources for Tobruk to Turkey (1943); Clune donated the royalties (£750) to the fund. He ‘left a very bad impression’ on General Sir Thomas Blamey—as much for his self-conferred rank of major as for his ‘irregular methods and indiscreet utterances’ about the British ‘only playing at war’. Blamey ensured that Clune was subject to military censorship and, when Clune managed to get to New Guinea in 1943 through the help of the U.S. Army, had him smartly returned to Australia.

With a strong sense of his public, Clune did not confine his enthusiasm for travel, adventure and history to books. When he had been auditioned, officials of the Australian Broadcasting Commission found that his ‘voice is not all good’, but from 1936 he badgered (Sir) Charles Moses (on a golf course) to arrange for him to give a series of radio talks. Clune wrote for newspapers and magazines, including Smith’s Weekly and the A.B.C. Weekly, and continued to broadcast; his regular show on the A.B.C., ‘Roaming Round Australia’ (1945-57), boasted an audience of one million.

There were more critical responses to Clune’s apparent insouciance with evidence when he wrote what purported to be orthodox history rather than travelogue. Starting with Dig (1937), an account of Burke and Wills, he worked his way through Australian history, writing accounts of bushrangers, ‘crooks’ and other romantic figures. The Viking of Van Diemen’s Land (1954), its narrative full of action and dialogue, was thought to have more in common with historical novels than history; Clune and his collaborator P. R. Stephensen were taken to task for passing off conjecture as fact in the life of Jorgen Jorgenson. The book had come from notes which Clune had made over eighteen years and from the work of researchers employed on contract, and was written up in a dramatic manner. With its impressive bibliography, it illustrates Clune’s strengths and weaknesses: an ability to ferret out information, but a desire to embroider it. Nevertheless, in books such as Dig and Wild Colonial Boys (1948), where he took care, he handled complex narrative and evidence comparatively well.

While his defects as a historian and a literary stylist are obvious, Clune’s readability and his capacity to sound like an enthusiastic representative of the ordinary traveller brought him wide popularity. He wrote in a pre-television era when men, in particular, read for entertainment and vicarious adventure. As he said in the first number of his short-lived Frank Clune’s Adventure Magazine (1948), ‘We don’t want stories of snoopy sex, written by anaemic lounge lizards and pub-crawlers. Action is the password to these pages. This is reading for men with red blood in their arteries’.

Although his fifty-ninth (and last) book appeared in 1968, he had continued to practise as a tax consultant, in partnership with his elder son from about 1959. (Sir) William Dargie and (Sir) William Dobell painted portraits of Frank Clune and he bought examples of their work, as well as paintings by other artists. Dobell’s portrait emphasizes the bluff, steel-coloured, short-cropped hair, and the energy, confidence and humour in his eyes. Clune was appointed O.B.E. in 1967. Survived by his wife and two sons, he died on 11 March 1971 at St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, and was buried with Catholic rites in South Head cemetery. The travel books remain valuable social records and the histories, although contentious, gave rise to some Australian mythologizing; Jimmy Governor (1959) was the inspiration for Thomas Keneally’s novel, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972). The portraits of Clune are held by the family.

Select Bibliography

B. Adamson, Frank Clune (Melb, 1943); K. Slessor, The War Diaries of Kenneth Slessor (Brisb, 1985); ABC Weekly, 23 Dec 1939, p 8; People (Sydney), 12 Apr 1950, p 21; Walkabout, 1 Mar 1953, p 40; Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), 3, nos 2 and 3, 1954, pp 28, 52; Biblionews, 8, no 2, Feb 1955, p 4, no 4, Apr 1955, p 11, no 7, July 1955, p 22; Clune papers (National Library of Australia); Clune files, especially SP 1558/2/0 box 36 and 244/1/463 (National Archives of Australia); F. Clune, manuscripts and working papers of several unfinished books (University of New South Wales Library); private information. More on the resources

Author: Julian Croft

Print Publication Details: Julian Croft, ‘Clune, Francis Patrick (Frank) (1893 – 1971)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Melbourne University Press, 1993, pp 447-448.

Henry, Henry Goya (1901 – 1974)


17 June 1901Grafton,New South Wales,Australia


14 July 1974Manly, SydneyNew South WalesAustralia


HENRY, HENRY GOYA (1901-1974), aviator and shipmaster, was born on 17 June 1901 at Grafton, New South Wales, third son of Thomas James Henry, medical practitioner, and his wife Emily, née Stephen, a great-granddaughter of John Stephen. Known as Goya, Henry was educated at Grafton High School. He made one voyage in a sailing ship; hoping to transfer later to medicine, he studied science at the University of Sydney in 1922-23. At St Matthew’s Church, Windsor, on 11 April 1925 he married Marjory Alison Pursehouse, schoolteacher. He worked as a clerk.

Qualifying for a private flying licence on 28 January 1928, Henry was issued with a commercial licence on 6 June 1929, which he used principally in a barnstorming venture. On 6 July 1930, flying a Junkers Junior monoplane, he was caught in bad weather and crashed at Manly, killing his passenger and losing much of one leg. With a successful artificial leg, he eventually regained his commercial licence in 1932 and was employed by Air Taxi Ltd. About 1934 he bought a Genairco biplane, decorated it with a ‘Jolly Roger’ and used it for joy-rides.

In September 1934 Henry’s licence was suspended for a fortnight for breaches of the air navigation regulations. Considering the sentence unjust, he defied the order: his licence was suspended indefinitely and he was prosecuted. Henry’s brother Alfred Stephen, a solicitor, launched proceedings in the High Court of Australia in October 1934 for an order nisi. While judgment was pending Henry was charged with further offences, his licence was suspended again and he was forbidden to enter any aerodrome. The Henry brothers appealed again to the High Court for an injunction. In 1936 the High Court ruled in respect of the action of October 1934 that the Commonwealth had a right to regulate flights but only in conformity with international conventions on the subject; the court considered that the regulations in dispute did not accord with those conventions. The parties then agreed out of court that on the payment of damages by the Commonwealth, the injunction application would be struck out. Charged by a flight controller at Mascot during the ensuing temporary confusion with flying below the prescribed height, Henry appealed, this time unsuccessfully to the High Court.

After a verdict against him in the District Court, arising from a collision while taking off from Mascot, Henry was bankrupted in October 1938 and was not discharged until September 1940. Debarred by his artificial leg from the Royal Australian Air Force at the start of World War II, he joined the small ships unit of the United States Army in 1943 and sailed a small work boat around New Guinea. After the war he worked for the Papua-New Guinea division of the Directorate of Shipping as mate on the Kelanoa plying between Rabaul and Kavieng, and as master of the Matoko in 1950-51. When the shipping service was taken over by the administration of Papua-New Guinea, he became master of the Thetis sailing up and down the Sepik River. He retired about 1963 and returned to Sydney; although his flying licence had lapsed he tried to revive contact with aviation. He died childless at Manly of arteriosclerosis on 14 July 1974 and was cremated.

Short, fair, straight-backed and nimble in spite of his disability, Henry became a New Guinea character. He had collected and sold snakes for many years, thereby reinforcing his reputation as a daredevil. In later years he suffered from some alcoholic excess.

Select Bibliography

Pacific Islands Monthly, Sept 1966, p 130; Aircraft (Melbourne), Dec 1936, p 8, 1 Apr 1937, p 17; Commonwealth Law Reports, 1955, p 608, 695, 1961, p 634; Australian Flying, Sept 1974; Sydney Morning Herald, 7 July 1930, 11 Nov 1936, 17, 18 Sept 1940, 21 July 1974; Smith’s Weekly (Sydney), 21 Nov 1936; bankruptcy file 249/1938, Federal Court of Australia (State Records New South Wales); service record, (National Personnel Records Center, St Louis, Mo, USA); A518 DB112/5, A432 34/1802, MP274/6 FL3918 (National Archives of Australia).

Author: H. J. Gibbney

Print Publication Details: H. J. Gibbney, ‘Henry, Henry Goya (1901 – 1974)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, Melbourne University Press, 1983, pp 265-266.

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We are no longer all British!

November 2, 2009 at 4:05 am (Commentary) ()

Today a couple of young Englishmen called in doing a survey for GOGREEN, and I got talking to them. First saying I detected their Southern English accents, and they told me they were from London.

I asked them were they visitors or residents, and they said, they were here for a year and hoped to stay longer, but there could be difficulties. I mentioned that my forebears come from Shepherd’s Bush in London and one said that was where he came from. I then went on to say that when I first visited England in the fifties, we were all considered to be British and went through the barriers as such, but alas, the Empire is no longer and as Australians coming to the UK now we are considered aliens, the same as the poor old Brits coming into Australia.

I then went on to tell them about a friend, a Battle of Britain pilot with a DFC, upon entering Britain, he was told that he had to go through the barrier at customs for aliens, and he refused, and made such a fuss along the lines that he fought for this country, and there was no way he was going to enter as an alien. Eventually the authorities relinquished, and let hin through the citizens’ gate.

I must admit that I did embellish the story a bit. The pilot was not actually a friend, and whether he had a DFC or not, I don’t know, but I did hear this story from someone as being something that did actually happen to a Battle of Britain pilot and his reaction.

The point of this little tale is that some of us might feel we are British, and like St Paul of old be proud of Roman Citizenship, but a fat lot of good this will do Englishmen or Australians. On reflection I suppose it didn’t do St Paul much good, but then again, I suppose it’s better to have your head cut off than to be crucified.

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