Professor Jenny Hocking is an award-winning biographer, Emeritus Professor at Monash University and inaugural Distinguished Whitlam Fellow at the Whitlam Institute, Western Sydney University. She is the author of three biographies including the acclaimed two-volume biography of Gough Whitlam, short-listed for numerous literary awards including the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, The Age Book of the Year and the National Biography Award, and winner of the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Barbara Ramsden Award.
In 2016, Jenny commenced legal action against the National Archives of Australia in the Federal Court, seeking access to the secret ‘Palace letters’ between the Queen and the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, relating to the dismissal of the Whitlam government. In May 2020, in a 6:1 decision, the High Court found in Jenny’s favour, ending the Queen’s embargo over the letters, and paving the way for their release.
Professor Hocking’s latest book The Palace Letters: The Queen, the governor-general, and the plot to dismiss Gough Whitlam tells the story of this remarkable archival research journey and legal battle to secure the release of the Palace letters, and their impact on the history of the dismissal of the Whitlam government. It was published by Scribe Publications in November 2020 with a foreword by Malcolm Turnbull and has been described as ‘a political thriller’, an ‘absorbing courtroom drama’, and ‘vital Australian history’. The Palace Letters was awarded a commendation in the Mander Jones Awards and a Special Commendation in the Henry Mayer Award for best Australian non-fiction in 2020.