Author’s pre-print versionTim Sherratt, ‘Remembering Lawrence Hargrave’, in Graeme Davison and Kimberley Webber (editors), Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Powerhouse Museum and its precursors, 1880-2005, Powerhouse Museum in association with UNSW Press, Sydney 2005, pp. 174-185.
In 1962 William Hudson Shaw, a Qantas executive, knocked at the door of a cottage in the seaside village of Walmer, Kent. Shaw was in the grip of an obsession – a ‘labour of love’ to document the ‘true story’ of Australian aeronautical pioneer Lawrence Hargrave.1 This quest had brought Shaw to the home of Helen Gray, Hargrave’s eldest daughter, his beloved ‘Nellie’. Now into her 80s, Helen Gray remained firmly protective of her father’s memory, yet strangely ambivalent about his achievements. Nonetheless, through Hudson Shaw’s visit and the correspondence that followed, the two became friends and collaborators. ‘I feel so grateful that you have such great interest in L.H. [and] his work’, the elderly woman wrote in 1963, ‘what a difference it has made to my life that you appeared at the right time’.2 The biographer gained insight into the personal life of his subject, and the daughter was relieved of the burden of defending her father against the ill-formed judgments of history. Read MoreRemembering Lawrence Hargrave