LIFE SENTENCES is a podcast about contemporary biography. In each episode, I talk to one of our best biographers and learn about their craft, setbacks and breakthroughs.
Ep 1: Atonement
Caroline talks to controversial Tasmanian historian and essayist Cassandra Pybus about her unique connection to Truganini, one of the most famous First Nations figures in the island’s history. Cassandra corrects several misconceptions about Truganini’s life at a time of brutal change.
Ep 2: Breakdown
Caroline talks to rock journalist Mark Mordue about the personal cost of spending ten years writing about musician Nick Cave, why he decided to alter his original concept of what the biography should be, focussing on Cave’s childhood and adolescence and his access to Cave’s friends and family.
Ep 3: That’s not what I said
Caroline talks to biographer Jacqueline Kent about wrangling a subject’s relatives anddealing with critics as part of of her experience writing the biographies of Julia Gillard and early Australian feminist Vida Goldstein.
Ep 4: Marrying Well
Caroline talks to Robert Wainright about the ‘gold’ he found in archives while researching the story of Sheila Chisholm, aglamorous Australian who became intimate with the royal family and how that led him to his next subject, Enid Lindeman, another prominent figure in the most exclusive circles.
Ep 5: An invisible life
Caroline talks to feminist biographer Helen Ennisabout the life of photographer Olive Cotton and how she addressed her subject’s natural reticence and modesty to bring the attention she deserved to a major Australian artist of the 20th century.
Ep 6: The Galloping Garbo
Caroline talks to sports biographer Patrick Skene about his biography of New Zealand rugby champion Olsen Filipaina, a working class athlete from Auckland with Maori and Samoan heritage. His life embodies a tight knit culture, and an identity that was not always understood by his coaches.
Ep 7: That Contemptible Little Squirt
Caroline talks to first time biographer Patrick Mullins about his hefty, award-winning biography of the man widely regarded as our worst prime minister, Billy McMahon. Did he really deserve his terrible reputation and the contempt of his own Party? And what part of his legacy deserves acknowledgement ?
Ep 8: Don’t Panic
Caroline talks to Judith Hoare about her biography of mental health pioneer Dr Claire Weekes, who developed a simple but effective cure for anxiety and phobias. Her methods turned her into an internationally best-selling author, long before the term self-help became widely used.