In the history of Australian literature few books have been so controversial than Frank Hardy's Power Without Glory.This is a tale of corruption stretching from street corner SP bookmaking to the most influential men in the land - and the terrible personal cost of the power such corruption brings. John West rose from a Melbourne slum to dominate Australian politics with bribery, brutality and fear. His attractive wife and their children turned away from him in horror. Friends dropped away. At the peak of his power, surrounded by bootlickers, West faced a hate-filled nation - and the terrible loneliness of his life.
Was John West a real figure? For months during the post-war years, an Australian court heard evidence in a sensational libel action brought by businessman John Wren's wife. After a national uproar which rocked the very foundations of the Commonwealth, Frank Hardy was acquitted. This is the novel which provoked such intense uproar and debate across the nation. The questions it poses remain unanswered…
About the Author
Frank Hardy was born in 1917 to a working-class Catholic family near Warrnambool, Victoria and left school at 13. He found his most formative education in the miseries of unemployment and poverty during the Great Depression. Having joined the army in 1940, one of Hardy's sergeants is reported to have said: 'If you write down some the stories you tell on beer nights you'd make a fortune.' The rest is history.A communist since the age of 17, a pot stirring advocate of worker's rights and Aboriginal welfare, a dedicated punter, Frank Hardy picked a winner when he discovered he could write. His novels and plays include Power Without Glory, his first novel, The Hard Way, The Four Legged Lottery, The Yarns of Billy Borker, The Unlucky Australians, The Outcasts of Foolparah, But The Dead Are Many, Who Shot George Kirkland, Mary Lives, Faces in the Street and Great Australian Legends.He died in 1994, aged 76, with a form guide in his lap.
'"This is the foulest libel that was ever written'
Mr Galbally, Counsel for the Prosecution against Frank Hardy as quoted by DAILY TELEGRAPH 1950
'We have been consulted by Mr and Mrs John Wren and members of their family, and we note that you are selling copies of the book Power Without Glory by Frank Hardy.
'The book is grossly libelous of our clients.
'At this stage we hereby give you notice that our clients will be exercising their legal rights, and to warn you of the consequences of the sale of this book.'
LETTER TO MELBOURNE BOOKSELLERS FROM CORR AND CORR SOLICITORS 1951
'We will continue selling it'
BOOKSELLER REACTION 1951
'Lies, lies, lies'
JOHN FRANCIS WREN JNR 1951
'More than 100 of Australia's best known writers, artists, scientists and members of the professions are petitioning the Victorian Attorney-General for the withdrawl of the case against Power Without Glory author Frank Hardy (in) defence of Australian traditions'
DAILY TELEGRAPH 1951
'[witnesses in the case against Hardy] today identified distinguished Australians with the characters in the book:
Among them were:
Field Marshall Sir Thomas Blamey (Blaire in the book); James Scullin, a former Prime Minister (Jim Somers); Sir High Devine, eminent surgeon (Dr Devlin); Archbishop Carr (Archbishop Conn); T.J.Ryan, a former Premier of Queensland (T.J.Real); Mr W.P.C.Kennelly, M.L.C. Federal Secretary for the ALP (Teddy Kelleher); and Mr W Barry, MLA, former State Labor Minister for Housing (Bill Brady).'
DAILY TELEGRAPH 1951
'It's Communist propaganda'
Bernard Nolan, witness for the prosecution, solicitor and friend of the Wren family, DAILY TELEGRAPH 1951
'"It was published with intent to cause a breach of the peace," Mr Galbally [counsel for the prosecution] said… "This charge of criminal libel is a rare one - it happens only once every 500 years when you get a case as bad as this one…"
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 1951
'I would like to be locked up with the author for 10 minutes. There wouldn't be a man here today answering this charge…I would probably have kicked Hardy to pieces
Bernard Nolan DAILY TELEGRAPH 1951
'Any novel which more than a handful of people remember as much as a year or so after its first publication is a rarity. Yet after ten years hundreds of thousands of Australians still remember Power Without Glory.'
THE AGE, 1960
'A truly epic work, both in conception and execution…Power Without Glory gives us a picture both of a whole Australian epoch and of a man. It has coherence and unflagging interest, not merely because of the vitality of the incidents, but because West is realised as an individual, caught up in circumstances, fighting to shape them his own way, succeeding and yet defeated. He is depicted as a ruthless man, corrupted and corrupting; and yet we feel sympathy for him…Power Without Glory has a secure place in the political and social history of Australia, and its remarkable story…is not going to be easily forgotten…'
JACK LINDSAY, 1968
'More an expose than a novel'
'notorious…[a] 40 year old first novel that still has the power to stir up a historical hornet's nest'
CANBERRA TIMES 1992
the best political novel in Australia…The passage of time should not diminish our admiration for the brave, rare way in which Hardy chose to expose John Wren's network of corruption in Melbourne… If anything (it is) now more topical.'
CANBERRA TIMES 1992
'Hardy was the literary chronicler and champion of the battler, of the common man…Power Without Glory remains one of the great Australian novels, powerfully, if in parts crudely, written. It has sold nearly 1 million copies worldwide…'
THE AUSTRALIAN 1994
'Hardy did create a genuine populist vision of what was then recent history and that is the hardest thing on earth to do in Australia'
PETER CRAVEN 1994
Power Without Glory was the 'best history of Victoria ever written.'
Former Whitlam Minister, Jim Cairns, as quoted by THE ADVERTISER 1994
'It has become one of the best-known Australian novels and its author one of the country's high-profile writers.'
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (1992)
'Hardy used writing as a weapon with which he waged war against injustice and oppression'
Alan Marshall (as quoted by Gerard Henderson for QUADRANT
'[Hardy was] the man the literary establishment loved to hate'
THE ADVERTISER 1994
Number Of Pages: 608
Published: 1st July 2008
Publisher: Random House Australia
Dimensions (cm): 19.6 x 13.1 x 4.3
Weight (kg): 0.46