Chris Wallace Meet the Author

8 Mar 2023

ANU/Canberra Times. Meet the Author. Chris Wallace

6 -7 PM Wednesday March 8. Manning Clark Hall Kambri Cultural Centre ANU

Chris Wallace will be in conversation with Tanya Plibersek on Chris’s new book, Political Lives. Australian Prime Ministers and their Biographers, an intimate history of image-making and image-breaking in national politics.

What was the story behind Bob Hawke’s famed biography? Why does Paul Keating think biographies of serving politicians are ‘like Polaroids of a busy life’ while John Howard considers them a big mistake? Where is the ‘missing’ Menzies biography? Why are our early prime ministers largely absent from historical memory? Chris Wallace writes Australian political history anew through this account of prime ministers, their biographies and their biographers. Lively and astute, the book takes us into their motivations and relationships, some well-known and some hidden, and in doing so shows us Australian politics in a fresh light.

‘For years there has been no shrewder or sharper commentator on Canberra politics than Chris Wallace. In this compelling, typically acute and unique study she contrives to illuminate all at once – and often as if for the first time – both the character of Australia’s prime ministers and the way Australian political history has been made.’ – Don Watson

‘Original, compelling and provocative. Every page offers fresh insights. Political Lives provides a genuinely new way of looking at Australian politics and political biography. Wallace has written a series of brilliant mini biographical essays on prime ministers and their biographers, exploring their backgrounds, relationships, motivations and political impact. The result is a biography of prime ministerial biography, the like of which we have not seen before.’ – Mark McKenna

‘Politicians’ log cabin stories have become such an important part of politics. But it has not always been so. Chris Wallace traces the intriguing role biography has played in framing our views of our leaders past and present, and examines how it has become such a potent force in the political contest.’ – Laura Tingle

Chris Wallace, Professor, Faculty of Business Government and Law, University of Canberra, is the author of several books including How To Win An Election (2020) and Political Lives. Australian Prime Ministers and their biographers (2023). She was official Cabinet Historian, National Archives of Australia 2020-2022 and is formerly a longstanding member of the Canberra Press Gallery.

The Hon Tanya Plibersek is the Minister for the Environment and Water, and the Federal Member for Sydney. Between 2013 and 2019, Tanya was Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. From 2013 to 2016, Tanya was also the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development. From 2017 to 2022 Tanya was the Shadow Minister for Education and the Shadow Minister for Women. Tanya served as a Cabinet minister in the Gillard and Rudd Governments

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event.


• Registration is required for this event.

• Accessible parking spaces are available around campus should you require them.

• To help keep everyone safe, please ensure that you are familiar with, and follow, the advice from ACT Health regarding COVID-19.

• If you do not feel well, please refrain from attending this event.

• By registering for this event, you are accepting our privacy policy.

• A podcast will be made available after the event.

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