The native-born ...have walked constantly with me, but only as shadows. In libraries and manuscript rooms, in the faded pages of newspapers and journals, in the lectures of my colleagues or conversations with others, they have been there, but shyly, and rarely did they speak for themselves. Often I thought that they scarcely knew who they were and, if they did, whether they were allowed to know they were Australians and whether they were ever encouraged by those born elsewhere to think of themselves as Australians. This beautifully written, absorbing and thoughtful book tells the story of the first white Australians to be born in this land. Born here before 1850, most were the children of convicts. They had no access to land and no education, and the free settlers generally treated them with contempt, as second-rate citizens. John Molony was curious to discover how they thought of themselves; what it meant to them to be Australian. He draws fascinating links between their experience and atitudes and those of all children of immigrant parents; up to the present day.
Professor John Molony was Manning Clark Professor of Australian History at the Australian National University, Canberra (1975-1991), Keith Cameron Professor of Australian History at University College Dublin (1991-1993) and Foundation Professor of the Australian Catholic University (1993-1996). He is currently Visiting Fellow, Australian Dictionary of Biography at the ANU.