World War I

March 9, 2014 /
May 12, 2012 /
May 1, 2005 /

Author’s pre-print version

Tim 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.


Hargrave's models on display, 1919.
Remembering Lawrence Hargrave – Hargrave’s models on display, 1919.

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

  1. W H Shaw to Margaret Hudson, 6 December 1963, and to Roger A Dane, 21 January 1964, W H Shaw papers, National Library of Australia: MS 5661. []
  2. Helen Gray to W H Shaw, 25 March and 13 November 1963 [incorrectly dated 1962], Shaw papers. []