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A Family Romance
A Family Romance

A Family Romance

The Deakins at Home


192 Pages, 5.55 x 8.39

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $24.95 (US $24.95) (CA $37.95)

Publication Date: October 1992

ISBN 9780522847406

Rights: US & CA

Melbourne University Press (Oct 1992)

Price: $24.95


A Family Romance is the story of the family of Alfred Deakin, Australia's first elected Prime Minister. In this intriguing book, John Rickard explores the complex web of relationships between Alfred, his wife Pattie, and his sister Catherine. The Deakin 'family romance' is permeated by the influence of spiritualism which, in extraordinary circumstances, brought Alfred and Pattie together, and which was to haunt their marriage. It is a tale which, with its Gothic overtones, has the character of a novel, but which, in its telling, poses questions about the nature of biography. How can we bring to life the emotional world inhabited by such a family—or must that territory be conceded to the novelist? John Rickard beautifully evokes the life of a middle-class Australian family at the turn of the century, and gives us the untold story behind the public achievements of great man.


“There has never been an Australian politician quite like Alfred Deakin. We have had no other prime minister more intelligent, none so learned in literature, history, religion, philosophy ancient and modern, none so articulate on paper about the public history he lived and made.” —The Weekend Review

Author Biography

John Rickard is Professor of Australian Studies at Monash University. He is the author of H. B. Higgins: The Rebel as Judge, Age Non-fiction Book of the Year for 1984 and Australia: A Cultural History.