The French Australian Review – No 68 Australian Winter 2020
ELAINE LEWIS, JANE GILMOUR, Foreword
IRENE ROGERS, ‘A Gift for France’: the Australian Bluebird nurses of the Great War
WINNER OF THE 2020 IVAN BARKO AWARD
In July 1916, a group of twenty one Australian trained nurses known as the Bluebirds left Australia for the Western Front. They were under contract with The New South Wales Division of the Red Cross Society (ARC) to work for the French Red Cross Society (FRC) or the French military authorities and called the Bluebirds because of their distinctive uniforms. The Bluebirds became the only group of trained and registered nurses sent to France by any Red Cross branch in Australia during the Great War, making them unique. Whilst some of their achievements have been acknowledged, little is known about the connections they made with French people, culture and institutions. This paper explores those relationships through the evidence they left behind in journals, diaries and letters and provides a humanised view of their experiences.
Keywords: History of nursing WW1, Australian Bluebird nurses, Australian Red Cross nurses WW1, Microhistory and nursing, Humanitarian nursing.
Dr Helen Sexton, a highly skilled surgeon from Melbourne, along with five other Australian women, all volunteers, established and ran the ‘Hôpital Australien de Paris’. During its six-months tenure Dr Sexton and her team developed close personal relationships with the French doctors at the hospital and with the French soldiers they cared for. Although three of the women received French medals, there was little acknowledgement from Australian authorities and Dr Sexton and her team were not recognised for their service on Australian War Memorials.
Keywords: Dr Helen Sexton, Australian women doctors in WW1, Hôpital Australien de Paris, Australian Hospital in Paris
DOCUMENTS, NOTES & REVIEWS
COLIN NETTELBECK, French-Australian Dictionary of Biography
This note describes the French-Australian Dictionary of Biography (FADB), an initiative of the Research Committee of the Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations. It is an on-line resource and can be found at www.isfar.org.au/fadb. It describes how biography was an early strand in the ISFAR journal with scholarly articles on those individuals who have made important contributions to relations between France and Australia. The FADB is modelled on the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Entries provide essential biographical information and are normally 600 to 1000 words in length.
Keywords: French-Australian Dictionary of Biography, biography, French-Australian relations.
PETER BROWN, Jacqueline Dwyer (1925–2020): A Tribute
Peter Brown’s tribute to Jacqueline Dwyer celebrates the life of this inspiring woman whose personal and family connections with France as well as her work as an historian earned her high esteem amongst the French-Australian community. She was the granddaughter of Georges Playoust who came to Australian in the late 19th century and established a very successful wool-buying business, supplying the textile mills back in France. Jacqueline decided, some 60 years after she had graduated from university to enrol in a PhD. She had already published Flanders in Australia, the story of her family and their involvement in the wool business in Australia.
Peter Brown was her PhD supervisor at the Australian National University and became a close friend as well as colleague. This tribute is as much about the woman as it is about the historian.
Keywords: Georges Playoust, French wool merchants in Australia; WWI, French Lives in Australia.
JOHN PRESLEY, French-Australian Encounters Number 4
John Presley, who was named by his parents Jean-Pierre Presle when he was born in Melbourne, recounts his exploration of his French ‘heritage’ for the first time when he spent six months in France at the age of twelve. His father was French, and his mother Australian. The marriage did not last and John was brought up by his mother and grandmother. At the age of 12 his maternal grandfather took him back to France to meet his relations there and to connect with his French heritage.
Keywords: Claude Presle, Peter Richardson, Smacka’s Restaurant, Balzac restaurant, Mirka Mora, Bandol, Lisieux, garlic growing.
Patricia Clancy was the guest speaker at the launch of the long-awaited biography of A. R. Chisholm in November 2019. The launch was held at the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne. Stan Scott was Chisholm’s colleague and disciple at the University of Melbourne from the mid-1950s until his retirement in 1984. Thanks the University of Melbourne Archive the biography was preserved after Scott’s death and subsequently edited by Wallace Kirsop, Adjunct Professor at Monash University and an Honorary Fellow of the Baillieu Library. The article is a transcript of Dr Clancy’s speech.
Keywords: A.R. Chisholm, Stan Scott, Wallace Kirsop, Patricia Clancy, the Baillieu Library, The University of Melbourne French Department, World War 1, French Symbolists, Mallarmé, the ‘Melbourne School’ of literary criticism.
KERRY MULLAN, Book Review: Robert Macklin, Castaway: The extraordinary survival story of Narcisse Pelletier, a young French cabin boy shipwrecked on Cape York in 1858
This book joins two others previously written about Narcisse Pelletier and the seventeen years he spent with the Night Island (Uutaalanganu) people in Far North Queensland, after being shipwrecked as a fourteen year-old cabin boy. The author has combined meticulous research with evocative and imaginative descriptions, creating a strong sense of place and culture as well as a ‘ripping yarn’. This is the final book in the author’s Australian History Quartet and the author alternates the story of Narcisse with the recounting of the corruption and brutality of the Queensland Frontier Wars.
Keywords: Narcisse Pelletier, Robert Macklin, Night Island (Uutaalanganu) people, frontier wars, Queensland, Saint-Nazaire, colonialism.
CHANTAL CROZET, Book Review: Christine Mathieu, Voyages Syntastiques: A Comparative-narrative Method for Teaching French Grammar to English Speakers
This book draws on the author’s extensive experience as both a learner and teacher of foreign languages. The author advocates for the use of a comparative-narrative approach to the teaching and learning of French in Australian compulsory schools. The author laments the shortcomings of the Natural Method based on her own experience of teaching languages, recognising the need to teach grammar explicitly and from a comparative perspective. The review identifies both theories and practices about which she would have welcomed discussion. The reviewer highlights that the book’s main strength lies in the author’s rich experience of classroom practice and this is particularly relevant in the second part of the book which maps the essentials of French grammar based on her comparative-narrative approach.
Keywords: Christine Mathieu, language teaching, classroom practice, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), Intercultural Language Teaching (ILT), Second Language Acquisition (SLA).
JANE GILMOUR, Book Review: Jayne Tuttle, Paris or Die: a Memoir
This book recounts the adventure of the author’s two-years in Paris, while she was studying at the Le Coq International Theatre School. It is a lively story—of friendships, falling in love with a French man, of life as a student in Paris, of her love of being in Paris. But it is also a reflection on cultural dislocation, on loss, on passion. The writing style is vivid and the book is both funny and also very moving. After ten years moving back and forth between Paris and Australia, the author and her (Australian) husband have now settled in Victoria, where they run a bookshop. The author continues to work as a copywriter for French clients.
Keywords: Jayne Tuttle, Le Coq International Theatre School, the Centre des Recollets, cultural differences, Paris.
This is the first volume of a two-part bilingual collector’s edition that offers a historical window onto the French-Australian connection from 1892 to 1945. Le Courrier Australien is the oldest foreign language newspaper in Australia. This is a beautiful coffee-table book, richly illustrated with reprints of past issues and photographs of the period. It is a compendium of historical documents that are a testament to the strength and complexity of the relationship between France and Australia over those years. While the reviewer suggests that the volume could have benefitted from a deeper engagement with existing historical scholarship, that would have helped readers interpret the documents and ponder their significance, he concludes that this is an ambitious and important publication that is both entertaining and stimulating, highlighting the role of the Courrier as a key institution binding the histories of France and Australia.
Keywords: Le Courrier Australien, François Vantomme, Bernard le Boursicot, Emeritus Professor Ivan Barko.
ELAINE LEWIS, French-Australian Bibliographical Notes
ELIZABETH RECHNIEWSKI & ALEXIS BERGANTZ, Call for Papers: ISFAR 35th Anniversary 101 Symposium, 8–9 April, 2021