Melanie Nolan

Melanie Nolan is Professor of History, Director of the National Centre of Biography and General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography in the School of History at The Australian National University (ANU). Her work includes Breadwinning (2000) a history of women and the state, Kin (2005) a collective biography of a working-class family which won the 2006 ARANZ Ian Wards Prize and was short-listed for the 2007 Ernest Scott Prize, and, most recently, general editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 18 (2012). She is the co-ordinator of the Masters of Biographical Research and Writing at the ANU. She was on the judging panel of the Magarey Medal for Biography (2008), the selection panel for the Australian Prime Ministers Centre research and scholarship program (2008-2011), the National Biography Award (2012) and is a member of the Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate’s Advisory Board.

orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6621-8382

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 19 »

1991–1995 (A–Z)

Edited by: Melanie Nolan
Publication date: 2021
Volume 19 of the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) contains concise biographies of individuals who died between 1991 and 1995. The first of two volumes for the 1990s, it presents a colourful montage of late twentieth-century Australian life, containing the biographies of significant and representative Australians. The volume is still in the shadow of World War II with servicemen and women who enlisted young appearing, but these influences are dimming and there are now increasing numbers of non-white, non-male, non-privileged and non-straight subjects. The 680 individuals recorded in volume 19 of the ADB include Wiradjuri midwife and Ngunnawal Elder Violet Bulger; Aboriginal rights activist, poet, playwright and artist Kevin Gilbert; and Torres Strait Islander community leader and land rights campaigner Eddie Mabo. HIV/AIDS child activists Tony Lovegrove and Eve Van Grafhorst have entries, as does conductor Stuart Challenender, ‘the first Australian celebrity to go public’ about his HIV/AIDS condition in 1991. The arts are, as always, well-represented, including writers Frank Hardy, Mary Durack and Nene Gare, actors Frank Thring and Leonard Teale and arts patron Ian Potter. We are beginning to see the effects of the steep rise in postwar immigration flow through to the ADB. Artist Joseph Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski was born in Poland. Pilar Moreno de Otaegui, co-founded the Spanish Club of Sydney. Chinese restaurateur and community leader Ming Poon (Dick) Low migrated to Victoria in 1953. Often we have a dearth of information about the domestic lives of our subjects; politician Olive Zakharov, however, bravely disclosed at the Victorian launch of the federal government’s campaign to Stop Violence Against Women in 1993 that she was a survivor of domestic violence in her second marriage. Take a dip into the many fascinating lives of the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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The ADB's Story »

Publication date: October 2013
‘The Australian Dictionary of Biography captures the life and times and culture of this country in an absolutely distinctive and irreplaceable way. It is the indispensable record of who we are, and of the characters who have made us what we are. I could not be prouder of ANU’s continuing role as custodian of this crucial part of our national legacy.’ — Professor the Hon. Gareth Evans AC QC, Chancellor, The Australian National University ‘A mature nation needs a literary pantheon of inspiring and instructive life histories, a gallery of all the possibilities of being Australian. The Australian Dictionary of Biography responds to that vital need in our culture. It is a stunning collaborative achievement and I feel so proud that we have such an activity here in Australia—to a great extent it describes and defines Australia.’ — Professor Fiona Stanley AC, Australian of the Year, 2003 ‘The Australian Dictionary of Biography is our greatest collective research project in the humanities and a national triumph. We have much to learn from it. The project is continuing to change as we mature nationally, with deeper understanding about the impacts of gender, race, environment, religion, education, language, culture, politics, region and war on what we are and what we may become.’ — The Hon. Dr Barry Jones AO ‘Australia is very fortunate to have a national biographical dictionary that is democratic as well as distinguished, one that represents the rich variety of Australian culture. The Australian Dictionary of Biography gathers together the stories of people from all walks of life, from the outback to the city and from the bush to the parliament. It is a monument of scholarship—and it is for everyone.’ — Dr Dawn Casey PSM ‘Few things are more illuminating than taking a random stroll through a volume of the Australian Dictionary of Biography—new insights into our greatest men and women, chance encounters with people whose exploits are all too often unpardonably overlooked. I first read the ADB with my mother, Coral Lansbury, who wrote four entries. One of her mentors, Bede Nairn, was a prodigious contributor. The Australian story is a story of Australians, no better told than in the ADB.’ — The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP ‘I find it difficult to bring to mind more than a handful of comparable enterprises in the fields of biography, history, philology or the social sciences more broadly—anywhere in the world. The status and appeal of the Australian Dictionary of Biography do not lie only in its scale and size. They reside also in the meticulous research, the erudition and scholarship, and the sweat and possibly tears involved in the editorial and publishing process. Its constituent dramatis personae are an eclectic mix of the noble and the notorious, the famous and the largely unsung. The underlying theme of the mosaic is quite clear: nothing less than the making and remaking of Australia.’ — Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AC, Governor of Queensland