A List – Some Histories Written by Women

Woman writing at desk in front of windowA couple of days ago Lisa Hill made the following comment in response to my post on Women and Archival Silences:

I track the gender of authors I review on my blog, but what always puts it out of synch is my fondness for reading history and politics – because so often the topics I enjoy are written by men.

Lisa Hill writes a flourishing blog where she reviews books – mainly those by Australian and New Zealander authors.  There are other people like Lisa Hill who want to read more histories written by women.  Over 300 have signed up for the Australian Women Writers Challenge to read and write reviews of books written by Australian women.  I’m one of them.  To help us all I have created a list of histories written by women.

My list has been created by trawling through the book review pages of two Australian history journals,  History Australia and the Australian Journal of Politics and History.  I extracted a list of histories and political commentaries written by women that have been reviewed in the last two years.  The list simply gives you the bibliographical details of the book.  To find out more about the book I suggest that you search the title on the internet or you can read the reviews in the journals yourself.  Both journals are accessible through the State Library of New South Wales and the National Library of Australia – I’m sure that they are available through other state libraries in Australia too.

There are a number of things to keep in mind about this list of histories written by women:

  • It is far from a comprehensive list of histories written by women.  There have been many others published in the last few years that are not on this list.
  • The journals are academic journals so the reviews they publish are of books likely to appeal to people who subscribe to academic journals rather than a general audience. Having said that I did notice some reviews of histories that are clearly directed towards the general public and I believe that many histories directed towards an academic audience are also very readable for the general public.
  • The authors listed here are mainly, but not exclusively, Australian.
  • The histories are mainly, but not exclusively, about Australia.
  • I included books in the list where at least one author is female. In some cases this may not have been clear, eg. “It’s Still in my Heart, This is My Country”: The Single Noongar Claim History is written by the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council together with John Host and Chris Owen.  I do not know who was on the Aboriginal Land and Sea Council when the book was written – I assume that there were some women on this Council.
  • Edited books are generally collections of essays written by a variety of authors.  The book reviews did not list the names of the authors who contributed to the book, just the names of the editors.  I included those edited books which had at least one female editor.  However, absent from my list are those books edited by only male editors which may have included the essays of female authors.
  • The fact that a book has been reviewed by these journals does not mean that it is endorsed by the journal.  Some books received good reviews, some reviews were critical.  I have included them all.

I have listed the books in reverse alphabetical order by author’s name.  Businesses for years have understood the human predilection to take more notice of entries at the start of lists than at the end and so at the start of our phone directories there are many AAA entries such as AAA Window Cleaners, AAA Garbage Removal etc.  Children like me, with surnames commencing with letters towards the end of the alphabet, learned that having such a surname meant that you had to wait longer whenever you were waiting for your name to be called at school.  (Are such children extra patient as adults?)  My list gives greater exposure to those authors who tend to receive less prominent places on lists simply because of their name.

Have a look through the list.  Which book will you read?

List of Histories Written by Women

  • Wolffram, Heather, The Stepchildren of Science. Psychical Research and Parapsychology in Germany, c. 1870-1939 (Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2009).
  • Tout-Smith, Deborah, ed, Melbourne: A City of Stories (Melbourne: Museum Victoria, 2009).
  • Tiernan, Anne and Patrick Weller, Learning to be a Minister: Heroic Expectations, Practical Realities (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2010).
  • South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council, John Host with Chris Owen, “It’s Still in my Heart, This is My Country”: The Single Noongar Claim History (Crawley, Western Australia: UWA Publishing, 2009).
  • Standish, Ann, Australia Through Women’s Eyes (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2008).
  • Somerville, Margaret, and Tony Perkins, Singing the Coast (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press 2010).
  • Shellam, Tiffany, Shaking Hands on the Fringe: Negotiating the Aboriginal World at King George’s Sound (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 2009).
  • Scully, Richard and Marian Quartly, eds, Drawing the Line: Using Cartoons as Historical Evidence (Melbourne: Monash University ePress, 2009).
  • Sawer, Marian, Norman Abjorensen and Phil Larkin, Australia. The State of Democracy (Sydney: The Federation Press, 2009).
  • Sanders, Karin, Bodies in the Bog and the Archaeological Imagination (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press 2009).
  • Russell, Penny, Savage or Civilised? Manners in Colonial Australia (Sydney: New South Wales Press 2011).
  • Reynolds, Kathrine M, The Frauenstein Letters: Aspects of Nineteenth Century Emigration from the Duchy of Nassau to Australia (Bern: Peter Lang, 2009).
  • Proctor, Tammy, Civilians in a World at War, 1914-1918 (New York and London: New York University Press, 2010).
  • Pakier, Małgorzata and Bo Stråth, eds, A European Memory? Contested Histories and Politics of Remembrance (New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010).
  • Otto, Kristin, Capital: Melbourne When It Was the Capital City of Australia 1901–27 (Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2009).
  • Osborne, Elizabeth, Throwing off the Cloak: Reclaiming Self-reliance in Torres Strait (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2009).
  • Mukerjee, Madhusree, Churchill’s Secret War. The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War Two (Chennai: Tranquebar Press, 2010).
  • Monsour, Anne, Not Quite White: Lebanese and the White Australia Policy 1880 to 1947 (Brisbane: Post Pressed, 2010).
  • Miller, Anne and Geoffrey Browne, eds, The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate, Volume 3 1962-1983 with an introduction by Harry Evans (Sydney: UNSW Press 2010).
  • Niner, Sara, Xanana: Leader of the Struggle for an Independent Timor-Leste (North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2009).
  • McKenzie, Kirsten, A Swindler’s Progress: Nobles and Convicts in the Age of Liberty (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press 2009).
  • Lincoln, Robyn and Shirleene Robinson, eds, Crime Over Time: Temporal Perspectives on Crime and Punishment in Australia (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2010).
  • Krichauff, Skye, Nharangga Wargunni Bugi-Buggillu: A Journey through Narungga History (Kent Town: Narungga Aboriginal Progress Association in association with Wakefield Press, 2011).
  • Kirkby, Diane, Voices From the Ships: Australia’s Seafarers and their Union (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2008).
  • Keene, Judith, Treason on the Airwaves: Three Allied Broadcasters on Axis Radio During World War II (Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger, 2009).
  • Johnston, Anna and Mitchell Rolls, eds, Reading Robinson: Companion Essays to Friendly Mission (Hobart: Quintus Publishing, 2008).
  • Hillel, Margot and Shurlee Swain, Child, Nation, Race and Empire: Child Rescue Discourses, England, Canada and Australia, 1850–1915 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010).
  • Hetherington, Penelope, Paupers, Poor Relief and Poor Houses in Western Australia 1829-1910 (Perth: University of Western Australia Publishing, 2009).
  • Haebich, Anna, Murdering Stepmothers: The Execution of Martha Rendell (Crawley: UWA Publishing, 2009).
  • Griffen-Foley, Bridget, Changing Stations: The Story of Australian Commercial Radio (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2009).
  • Fitzpatrick, Sheila, My Father’s Daughter: Memories of an Australian Childhood (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2010).
  • Fitzherbert, Margaret, So Many Firsts (Sydney: The Federation Press, 2009).
  • Falkiner, Suzanne, The Imago: E. L. Grant Watson & Australia (Perth: UWA Publishing, 2011).
  • Ekins, Ashley and Elizabeth Stewart, eds, War Wounds: Medicine and the Trauma of Conflict (Wollombi and Auckland: Exisle Publishing, 2011).
  • Edmonds, Penny, Urbanizing Frontiers: Indigenous Peoples and Settlers in 19th-Century Pacific Rim Cities (British Columbia: University of British Columbia Press 2010).
  • Doulman, Jane and David Lee, Every Assistance and Protection: A History of the Australian Passport (Annandale: The Federation Press, 2008).
  • De Matos, Christine, Imposing Peace and Prosperity: Australia, Social Justice and Labour Reform in Occupied Japan (North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2008).
  • Debelle, Penelope, Red Silk: The Life of Elliott Johnston QC (Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2011).
  • Damousi, Joy, Colonial Voices: A Cultural History of English in Australia, 1840–1940 (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press 2010).
  • Curthoys, Ann and Ann McGrath, How to Write History That People Want to Read (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2009).
  • Curthoys, Ann, Ann Genovese and Alexander Reilly, Rights and Redemption: History, Law and Indigenous Peoples (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2008).
  • Crotty, Martin and Marina Larsson, eds, Anzac Legacies: Australians and the Aftermath of War (North Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2010).
  • Cowlishaw, Gillian, The City’s Outback (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2009).
  • Clarsen, Georgine, Eat My Dust. Early Women Motorists (USA, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008).
  • Clark, Jennifer, Aborigines and Activism: Race, Aborigines and the Coming of the Sixties to Australia (Perth: University of Western Australia Press, 2008).
  • Chappell, Louise, John Chesterman and Lisa Hill, The Politics of Human Rights in Australia (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • Cash, John and Joy Damousi, Footy Passions (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press Ltd, 2009).
  • Burton, Pamela, From Moree to Mabo: The Mary Gaudron Story (Crawley: UWA Publishing, 2010).
  • Bradley, John with Yanyuwa Families, Singing Saltwater Country: Journeys to the Songlines of Carpentaria (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 2010).
  • Anderson, Stephanie, Pelletier: The Forgotten Castaway of Cape York (Melbourne: Melbourne Books, 2009).
  • Anderson, Fay and Richard Trembath, Witnesses to War: The History of Australian Conflict Reporting (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2011).

8 thoughts on “A List – Some Histories Written by Women

  1. Thanks for writing this post. I’m participating in the Australian Women Writers Challenge, but I live in the US and am pretty clueless about Australian history. Will try to track down a copy of Ann Standish’s Australia Through Women’s Eyes.


  2. Wow, thank you so much for this list, I shall have to go exploring…
    May i contribute a couple of titles triggered by seeing your list? These are histories for the general reader:
    Weevils in the Flour by Wendy Lowenstein
    Australian Women at War (and a heap of other titles, see Wikipedia) by Patsy Adam Smith
    and the one I am currently reading:
    The Complete Book of Heroic Australian Women by Susanna de Vries


    • I’m so glad that you like the list – it was your comment that inspired me to create it. Feel free to add titles. I am in the process of making a new list so will add these books.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.