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Sir Henry Parkes

Sir Henry Parkes

By Stephen Dando-Collins

Award-winning author Stephen Dando-Collins recounts the fascinating story of the Father of Federation.

Five time Premier of New South Wales, married three times, a fiscally prudent politician who nonetheless went bankrupt himself three times. Not only the Father of Federation but also of seventeen children – get to know the truly unique story of one of our most accomplished politicians!

Who was He? He received little schooling and worked on a rope-walk, breaking stones, and as an ivory and bone turner. He also was a skilled ironmonger and laboured on the wharves before trying business life and ultimately politics. Poet, newspaper proprietor and editor of the Empire newspaper, he was also a social and education reformer, and was pioneer of mental health care in Australia and a leading proponent of women’s right to vote. He was friends with Tennyson, Mark Twain and Florence Nightingale. He encouraged talented men to enter politics. Yet he shunned the limelight, rarely attending social functions.

What was his Legacy? What has come to define Parkes was his fervour for federation. Convinced that the future of the colonies lay in their unification, his passion for the cause charted a path for the initially controversial movement ’as he dragged Australia’s political leaders, often kicking and screaming, towards nationhood.

‘An important, long-overdue, warts and all biography of Australia’s most formidable politician. Uneducated, bankrupt and depressive, Henry Parkes nonetheless steered a fractious country to nationhood, championed women’s rights, established secular state education and set a standard for honest governance that his successors, particularly in New South Wales, have proved incapable of emulating.’ Geoffrey Robertson

Stephen Dando-Collins is the author of the acclaimed Captain Bligh’s Other Mutiny and a successful series of popular histories about the legions of ancient Rome published in the US, UK, and Australia. Pasteur’s Gambit was shortlisted for the science prize in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and won the Queensland Premier’s Science Award. Crack Hardy, his most personal history, received wide acclaim. Mistaken Identity tells another episode of previously undiscovered Australian history.

Sir Henry Parkes is available now. 

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