“In history, as in medicine and the law, memory is a vital but hazardous field. When we studied history at university – we had first class teachers – we were warned that memory is and was fallible. But this vital fact was mentioned in passing rather than forming a major topic of study in its own right. So when I began to write books I learned much more, and sometimes learned by trial and error. This address recounts parts of that learning trip.”
Geoffrey Blainey learned to read and spell in Leongatha and continued his formal education at Ballarat High, Wesley College, and the University of Melbourne. Blainey has made a career of writing history. He began to research his first book in 1951 – it was published by Melbourne University Press under the title of “The Peaks of Lyell” – and completed his latest book in 2016. Blainey was Professor of Economic History and then of History at the University of Melbourne, and he also held a chair at Harvard. In New York in 1988 – along with the celebrated economist Professor JKL Galbraith – he was awarded the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s gold medal for “excellence in the dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of mankind.” The National Trust lists Geoffrey Blainey as one of Australia’s Living Treasures. His better- known works include “The Tyranny of Distance”, “The Causes of War”, “The Rush That Never End”, and such international best-sellers as “A Short History of the World” and “A Short History of the 20th Century”. He is said to have published, in his books, more words than any other Australian academic. His wife Ann, an award-winning biographer, also writes books.