Shortlist year: 2018

Shortlist category: Australian history

Published by: Text Publishing

Alfred Deakin—scholar, spiritualist, prime minister—was instrumental in creating modern Australia. In the first biography of Deakin in more than half a century, the acclaimed political historian Judith Brett deftly weaves together his public, private and family lives. She brings out from behind the image of a worthy, bearded father of federation the principled and passionate, gifted and eccentric figure whose legacy continues to shape the contours of the nation's politics.

About the author


Judith Brett

Judith Brett is the award-winning author of Robert Menzies Forgotten People, Emeritus Professor of politics at La Trobe University and one of Australia's leading political thinkers. She contributes regularly to the Monthly and has written three Quarterly Essays.

Judges’ comments

This is the first book to bring together the spiritual, political and personal life of one of Australia's most significant politicians—Alfred Deakin. As Brett deftly explores and weaves these strands together we begin to understand Alfred Deakin his motivations and indeed his enigmatic qualities. This is a psychological study of Australia's former Prime Minister. Beginning with his Melburnian upbringing Brett shows how his social and familial context shaped him. The city of Melbourne of the period is revealed as crucial to how we are to comprehend and understand Deakin. Brett is a fine writer, and the text displays her curiosity and her depth of knowledge. This is a comprehensive work which will stand as a definitive source on Alfred Deakin.