About me

Hi.  My name is Marion Diamond, and I’m a retired historian.  For many years I taught at the University of Queensland, where I am now an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics.

I write regular brief-ish entries dealing with the historical issues that interest me, free from the constraints of references and referees.  My main research interest is early Australian colonial history, and its connections with the wider world of Asia, but I’m also interested in how the past impacts on the present.

In 1980, Hugh Trevor-Roper said:

‘Historians of every generation, I believe, unless they are pure antiquaries, see history against the background – the controlling background – of current events.  They call upon it to explain the problems of their own time, to give to those problems a philosophical context, a continuum in which they may be reduced to proportion and perhaps made intelligible.’

That’s still true, 30 years on.

38 responses to “About me

  1. I am enjoying your writing. You are still referencing though. Is it hard to kick the habit of a lifetime?

  2. interesting stuff. I look forward to seeing more

  3. Michelle Riedlinger

    Loving reading this blog, Marion – it makes me feel not so far away!

  4. Good reading Marion, I will relay it to my historian friend in the UK who is in a similar situation to yourself vis-a-vis teaching for umpteen years and now retired. She has a website rather than a blog.

  5. Angi Buettner

    Thank you Marion. Love your entries. And I love the references – great further reading.

  6. I saw your post on the wordpress forum regarding adding a “view stardard site” option within the Onswipe theme at the footer of the page. The developer says they are working on it but that was months ago. I noticed on your wonderfully designed site that you have figured it out. By any change could you help me?

    • I really can’t help you, Craig, because I didn’t do anything. There should be a ‘view standard site’ option on your page, when viewed in iPad – Onswipe seems to be the default version here. But in any case, if you write to WordPress at help, they are very helpful, got back to me within 24 hours with the answer.

  7. Craig Capello

    Thank you very kindly. That still helps me greatly. Steps in the right direction. Thank you. I greatly appreciate it.

  8. Dear Marion
    Your piece in the Australian about Food Prices and such related matters as historical and current food-induced riots is apposite. The global situation is precarious. Two central issues that international agencies charged with addressing food security (that’s real food security – very basic often unappetising food necessary to sustain life in famines where Western food surpluses may not be available) form the basis of my recent book. I mention it since it opens with an historical picture – a free pdf version is available at
    Also, Julian Cribb’s excellent book, ‘The Coming Famine’ and his blog aim to motivate some responsible action.
    Thanks for raising the matter in a public forum
    Lindsay Falvey
    (C/-Former Dean and Chair of Agriculture, University of Melbourne, 3010 Australia, or Life Fellow, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, Hershel Rd, Cambridge UK.)

  9. Thankyou for your blog. The internet is a wonderfully liberating space. It is sad that our society has traditionally ignored the views of retired people as if the fact that they are no longer working full-time means that they no longer have anything to contribute to society. However, the tide seems to be turning and this attitude will hopefully disappear. The web opens huge possibilities! Your blog certainly shows that you have much to contribute.

    • Thank you. I don’t think I’ve been put out to grass quite yet, but I know how little headspace my colleagues have for this sort of writing, since it attracts no brownie points on the academic research treadmill.

  10. I am so glad to find your blog – I, too, am having withdrawal symptoms from my years as history professor (world and Asian history). Looking forward to reading this, and I’ve signed up to follow on e-mail.
    Eve Fisher

  11. Thank you for ‘liking’ my blog on the Great Ocean Road and more important,y reminding me of Eugene von Guerard’s name. His painting was amazing and displayed by the side of the road.
    I just could not remember his name. Thank your for the information.

  12. oldmarion…..for some reason I do not think you are old at all. I am switching gears from being a physician to doing a graduate degree in the history of science and medicine at the tender age of 63. These tires have been a lot of places but the tread is still very good. I just discovered your blog and have enjoyed it. Are there any new posts? How about writing something about the Australian academic community and formation of research groups similar to the various groups of boffins of British and American scientists and engineers. The stories of Bletchley Park, Enigma and the Manhattan Project have had considerable books written about them. Have I simply overlooked books already published? With kindest regards, Bill

    • Thanks Bill. I’m sorry I’m seriously behind on the posts at present – but I’m just finishing chemotherapy for breast cancer, and writing posts has been beyond me for the last few weeks – hopefully normal transmission will be resumed in March, when the radiotherapy is over.

  13. Marion,
    My deepest best wishes are extended to you in this time of your health adversities. As a physician who has treated many patients with complications of breast cancer, I understand your debilities. I do wish you a speedy return to good health…..your most learned blogging is much needed by us simpletons in the blogsphere. Best wishes, Bill

  14. Get better! This is a cracking blog with excellent information. I found you via the cost of a shirt before the Industrial Revolution. Thank you & I’m with Bill above on this – keep posting. I hope this finds you fighting fit. Best, James

  15. Marion, read your article on Edward Hawksley in Denis Cryle’s book today. Here’s a person who should be better known. I’m hoping that you are feeling stronger. We’ll done for a great blog.

    • Darcy, I couldn’t agree more! He was left out of the Australian Dictionary of Biography – and NOT added to it in the Missing Persons volume. I think he partly fell through the cracks because he died in Fiji and his descendants stayed on there.
      The People’s Advocate which he edited in the 1850s was a really important paper, too, but the microfilm is terrible, and it is yet to be digitized.

  16. Dear Mrs D. As a french speaking Canadian,i ‘am always amazed that my inquiries on the internet bring me often to your country…As a north american,i do dream of Australia.Your site is of great interest.Hoping this message find you in good spirit.W.

  17. Donald Burnett Eaton

    Hello Marion my name is Donald Burnett Eaton my father was George Burnett Eaton he was a friend of Lloyd Rees. It is possible that we could be related.

  18. Sharon Frayne

    Hello Marion, I have recently moved close to the location of Our Western Home, and have discovered your book referencing Maria Rye. I would love to learn more about this home, and what life must have been like for the girls who lived there. I am hoping you can help shed some insight into this time in history. Thank you so much!

  19. Hi Sharon – I’m replying privately so I can go into more detail. Cheers.

  20. Sharon Frayne

    Wonderful! Much appreciated.

  21. Sandy Barrie

    “My grandmother’s aunt, Ada Driver, was one of the first ” did you write this about ada.. As I worked in the Building that was Ada Drivers studio, cnr of Queen & Albert Stts, and had interviewed one of her apprentices… I also have a large brass lens of hers that was in one of her advertising postcards… (I lost the postcards in the 2011 floods)
    if you are a a relation of Ada, please contact me.
    regards, Sandy

  22. cicadasbeesandbargepoles.com

    Hi Marion. Your blog ‘came up’ as I googled historiography and eureka stockade and I must admit I’ve enjoyed wandering into your other posts as well. Love your writing! I’m nervously approaching my first assignment in a grad dip in family, local and applied history online through UNE from a background of science, oncology/palliative care nursing and creative writing. It’s a little daunting as it’s ‘a number’ of years since I’ve had to write a referenced debate, this time on a fight for liberty or a protest over taxes. Not to worry, I’ll battle on. Keep up the great work. Cheers, Marg.

  23. HI Marion, Your blog came up in my search results for Ronald Campbell Gunn, one time editor of the Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science. I think I spent about an hour poking about your site – loved it. I’m a Librarian, not a historian but I understood all you wrote and took two hours out of my writing day to enjoy. I’m going to tell my twitter followers. Keep up the fantastic writing,Emma

  24. Hello Marion, it’s been a while since you’ve blogged here, and I’m just wondering if you are well…

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