‘Berry used his popular following to plunge Victoria into its most profound constitutional crisis, and this book establishes his lasting legacy.’ Stuart Macintyre
‘This is a historian at the top of his game. Democratic Adventurer will be required reading for those who study colonial Australia, but its clear focus, accessible style, and the excitement of the tale will attract a popular audience also.’ Benjamin T. Jones
Listen to Sean Scalmer’s SHAPS Forum podcast interview
2020 Victorian Community History Awards – Shortlisted
Graham Berry (1822-1904) was colonial Australia’s most gifted, creative and controversial politician. A riveting speaker, a newspaper proprietor and editor, and the founder of Australia’s first mass political party, he wielded these tools to launch an age of reform: spearheading the adoption of a ‘protectionist’ economic policy, the payment of parliamentarians, and the taxing of large landowners. He also sought the reform of the Constitution, precipitating a crisis that the London Times likened to a ‘revolution’. This book recovers Berry’s forgotten and fascinating life. It explores his drives and aspirations, the scandals and defeats that nearly derailed his career, and his remarkable rise from linen-draper and grocer to adored popular leader. It establishes his formative influence on later Australian politics. And it also uses Berry’s life to reflect on the possibilities and constraints of democratic politics, hoping thereby to enrich the contemporary political imagination.
Sean Scalmer teaches at the University of Melbourne, where he is a Professor of History. He is the author of several works of political history, including the prize-winning On the Stump (2017), Gandhi in the West (2011), The Little History of Australian Unionism (2006) and Dissent Events (2002).