Idling in Green Places

Alec Chisholm

Idling in Green Places: Or Pinning Down a Naturalist

Alec Chisholm (1890-1977) was a self-educated polymath of a kind that has since vanished from Australia’s public life. Renowned first for his lushly Romantic writings on nature, he went on to win accolades that made him a household name in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Yet today he is barely remembered. In this talk, Russell McGregor will reflect on the pleasures and challenges of retrieving the life story of this intriguing and sometimes irritating man. He’ll also make some observations on biography as a window onto the past.

Russell McGregor is an Adjunct Professor of History at James Cook University. His publications include the award-winning books Imagined Destinies: Aboriginal Australians and the Doomed Race Theory (1997) and Indifferent Inclusion: Aboriginal People and the Australian Nation (2012). More recently he has turned to environmental history with Environment, Race and Nationhood in Australia: Revisiting the Empty North (2016) and Idling in Green Places: A Life of Alec Chisholm (2019), which was shortlisted for the National Biography Award. His current project is a history of birdwatching.

You can also join the Workshop via Zoom at

Date & time

Thu 11 Mar 2021, 11am–12.30pm


Seminar Room 5.72, RSSS Building, 146 Ellery Cres, ANU, Canberra


Russell McGregor

Event series


National Centre of Biography



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