Biography Workshop


National Centre of Biography


Biography Workshop

The Biography Workshop was established by the National Centre of Biography in response to requests by practitioners, students and readers of biography for a forum to discuss a range of methodological issues relating to biography. The group considers recent and long-standing questions about biography.

As Ray Monk and others have pointed out, there is an expanding body of academic literature on biography which asks some of the same questions that Dr Samuel Johnson addressed in his two famous essays on biography Rambler (1750) and Idler (1759):

Is biography fiction?

Who deserves to have a biography written of them?
What details are appropriate to be included in a biography? 

Is it possible to know with certainty the inner life of another?
What are the moral or ethical responsibilities of biographers towards subjects, social sensitivities and the truth?

The Biography Workshop meets at noon to 1.30 pm at the ANU and offers the opportunity for informal and relaxed discussion with some of Australia's best biographers in a stimulating environment.

If you are interested in attending any of the sessions, please contact us at

Workshops 2018

29 March 2018 - Ian Hancock: On Writing About Ainslie Gotto

26 April 2018 - Gabrielle Carey: Falling Out of Love with Ivan Southwall

31 May 2018 - Joanna Gilmour & Kate Fullagar: Indigenous Lives Through Portraiture

28 June 2018 - Gareth Evans: Different Strokes for Different Folks: Writing a Diary v Memoir v Autobiography

26 July 2018 - Kim Mahood: 'Position Doubtful-Some Reflections'

30 August 2018 - Christine Milne: Reflecting on an Activist Life

27 September 2018 - Peter Jones: Australia's Argonauts: The remarkable story of the first class to enter the Royal Australian Naval College

25 October 2018 - Sophie Jensen: Museums and Biography


Upcoming events

Christine Milne: Reflecting on ‘An Activist Life’

12pm 30 Aug 2018

Over the years I have written hundreds of press releases and speeches, yet writing a political autobiography was a challenging task. How does a private person...

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Past events

Kim Mahood - The Writer as Cartographer

26 Jul 2018

‘I am someone who returns again and again to geography, as the writers of another generation returned repeatedly to Freud and psychoanalysis.’ This quote...

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Gareth Evans - Different Strokes for Different Folks

28 Jun 2018

Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC has published both a political diary, Inside the Hawke-Keating Government: A Cabinet Diary (2014), and a comprehensive...

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Joanna Gilmour & Kate Fullagar - Indigenous Lives Through Portraiture

31 May 2018

The talk focusses on the forthcoming Founding Pairs exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. It is the first production of an ARC Linkage grant on...

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Gabrielle Carey - Falling Out of Love with Ivan Southall

26 Apr 2018

This talk will explore the phenomenon of Ivan Southall and his influence on a generation of young readers and emerging writers, including his influence on nine...

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Ian Hancock: On Writing About Ainslie Gotto

29 Mar 2018

Ian Hancock will discuss the different lives and careers of Ainslie Gotto - as Prime Minister John Gorton's chief of staff, a company director with Drake...

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Fighting Words

20 Feb 2018

Can a book change the world? If books were integral to the creation of the imperial global order, what role have they played in resisting that order throughout...

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Karen Fox: Fame, Reputation, Significance, and Biography

26 Oct 2017

Reputations – and historians’ assessments of the significance of a life – may change over time, and can be the subject of intense conflict, as demonstrated by...

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Katherine Aigner: Writing Uncomfortable Stories

28 Sep 2017

Katherine Aigner, a PhD student in the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the ANU, will discuss 'How do you write uncomfortable stories?' Says...

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Peter Rees: Charles Bean and Len Waters

31 Aug 2017

Peter Rees published his biography of Charles Bean in 2015 (Bearing Witness, Allen & Unwin, 2015), a study which, for the first time, captured the essence...

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Peter Monteath: Red Professor: The Cold War Life of Frederick Rose

27 Jul 2017

Peter Monteath discusses his book Red Professor (Wakefield Press, 2015) a portrait of the life of the anthropologist, communist, and spy Fred Rose, which he co...

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Updated:  19 June 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications