Biography Workshop

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Dr Sue Taffe: A White Hot Flame, a life of Mary Montgomerie Bennett.

Sue Taffe has recently completed, A White Hote Flame, which examines the early private life of Mary Bennett, providing insights into her later public life of intense single-minded dedication to the cause of Indigenous rights and justice. Her research has explored Bennett's family influences, including the traumatic effect of the family's adoption and abandonment of a mixed descent Aboriginal child when Mary was a teenager. Scholars to date, with the exception of Mark Cryle, have not analysed Mary Bennett's published work, the most revealing being 'Christison of Lammermoor', her biography of her pioneer-pastoralist father. Sue has interviewed some of Mary's former Mount Margaret Mission students, uncovered her sister's unpublished novel based on their father, found the evidence of various family rifts and explored her fantasies about her father and her childhood.

Sue Taffe published her doctoral thesis under the title Black and White Together, FCAATSI: the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, 1958-1973 (UQP) in March 2005. She has contributed to a number of journals and edited collections. She is the author of the Collaborating for Indigenous Rights website hosted by the National Museum of Australia. She is currently an Adjunct Research Associate with the Monash Indigenous Centre where she is working on biographical studies of activists for Aboriginal rights in mid twentieth century Australia. Other current research interests include a study of the role of the Communist Party of Australia and the left-wing maritime unions to the Aboriginal rights activism of the 1950s and 1960s.