Power Without Glory
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The work was originally self-published with illustrations by his friend and fellow Communist "Amb" Dyson, with the rubric "a novel in three parts by Frank J. Hardy, Ross Franklyn". This combination of real name and pseudonym was carried over to his 1961 book The Hard Way relating in the third person of "Ross Franklyn" his difficulties in having the book published.
The novel is a fictionalised version of the life of Melbourne businessman and Australian Labor Party power-broker, John Wren. It is set in the fictitious Melbourne suburb of Carringbush, which is based on the actual suburbs of Abbotsford and Collingwood. In the novel, West is involved in criminal activities related to gambling and political machinations.
The book also included characters based on other important Victorian and Australian political figures, including:
- Victorian Premier Sir Thomas Bent;
- Prime Minister James Scullin;
- Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Daniel Mannix (the character "Archbishop Malone");
- Police commissioner Thomas O'Callaghan;
- Detective David O'Donnell;
- Socialist ALP politician and one-time deputy leader Frank Anstey (the character "Frank Ashton");
- Ex-politician and notorious lawyer David Gaunson (the character "Davey Garside");
- Returned soldier and racing official Gilbert Dyett (the character "Godfrey Dwyer");
- Boxer Les Darcy;
- Gangster Squizzy Taylor (the character "Snoopy Tanner"); and
- Queensland Premier and then federal Treasurer Ted Theodore.
A fuller list of characters and locations is provided in the following section "Who's Who in the Novel".
The barely disguised motivation for the "West" character is made clear by the fact that West, like Wren, also has a brother called "Arthur" who spent time in jail for aiding and abetting a crime of rape. (Wren's other brother, Joseph, also appears in the novel.) Wren's wife Ellen Mahon appears as "Nellie", and there is space in the novel given to three of his children: his violinist daughter Margaret, his son John Jr., and another daughter who became a Communist bore similarities with Wren's radical daughter Mary who was an active member of the communist front organisation the Movement Against War and Fascism.
The novel is set during World War I, and the debate about conscription is a major issue in the novel. John West is a fierce patriot who supports conscription, and his sometimes fiery debates with the Irish-Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, who opposes conscription on the grounds that to send men to aid England was against his, and Ireland's, historical enmity with that country.
Characters and real-life equivalents
ASHTON, F. — Frank Anstey, Labor politician and social propagandist
BENNETT (The Gentleman Thief) — Hon. W.J. Beckett, M.L.C. for Melbourne
BLACKWELL, Maurice — Maurice Blackburn, Federal Labor M.P.
BLAIRE — Sir Thomas Blamey
BOND, Thomas — Sir Thomas Bent, 32nd Premier of Victoria
BRADLEY, Richard — Richard Buckley, notorious criminal
BRADY, Wm. — Wm. Barry, Victorian Labor M.P. for Carlton; Housing Minister in the Cain Government
CALLINAN, Police Comm. — Police Commissioner O'Callaghan
CAMERON — Campbell, Cycling Promoter Exhibition
CARR, John — John Cain, Leader, Victorian Labor Party
CORY, Pat — Cody of Aust. Distilleries
CREGAN, J. — J.L. Cremean, Federal M.P. for Hoddle
CUTTING, Slasher — Snowy Cutmore, gunman and thief
DARBY, Lou — Les Darcy
DAVISON, Alfie — Sir Albert Dunstan
DEVLIN, Dr. — Sir Hugh Devine
DWYER, Godfrey — Sir Gilbert Dyett, long-time President of the R.S.L.
GARSIDE, David — David Gaunsen, prominent criminal barrister
GIBBON, Sir S. — Sir Samuel Gillott, Chief Secretary in the Bent Cabinet
HORAN, Ned — E.J. Hogan, twice Labor Premier of Victoria
JOGGINS, Rev. — Rev. G. Judkins, prominent anti-vice crusader and preacher
JOLLY, Bob — Bob Solly, Labor M.P. in Victorian Parliament for many years
KELLEHER, Paddy — P.J. Kennelly, M.L.C. for Melbourne; Federal Secretary, A.L.P.
KELLY, Michael — Standish Michael Keon, Victorian Member for Richmond, later Federal M.P. for Yarra
LAMB, Richard — Dick Lean of Melbourne Stadium
LAMBERT, Percy — Percy Laidler, theatrical supplier of 201 Bourke Street and prominent socialist
LAMMENCE, Frank — Frank Laurence, died November 1950
LASSITER family — Loughnan family
LEVY, Ben — Ben Nathan, founder of Maples
LEWIS, Piggy — Piggy Ryan, alias Williamson, gunman and standover man
LONG — Bill Lang
McCORKELL — W. McCormack, Labor Premier of Queensland
MALONE, Daniel — Dr. Daniel Mannix, archbishop of Melbourne
MANSON, "Plugger" Pete — "Plugger" Bill Martin
MORAN family — Mahon family
MORTON, Jim — Jim Morley, communist organiser; journalist with the 'Morning Post'
MURKETT, Kenneth — Sir Keith Murdoch
O'FLAHERTY, Dave — Detective O'Donnell, Chief of the Gaming Squad
PARELLI — Pellegrini
PARKER, Clive — Clyde Packer, journalist. Later worked for 'Truth'
RAND — Ryan
REAL, T.J. — T.J. Ryan
REDMON, Ron — Ron Richards, Aboriginal boxer
RENFREY, Sugar — "Sugar" Roberts, Mayor of Collingwood
ROBINSON, Barney — Barney Reynolds
SANDOW — Santel, genuine champion wrestler
SCOTT, Bob — Possibly another name for Bob Solly
SOLOMON, Sol — Sol Green, noted bookmaker
SQUEERS — Bill Squires
SUMMER, James — J.H. Scullin, Labor M.P., Prime Minister 1929-32
SWINTON — Sir George Swinburne
TANNER, Snoopy — Squizzy Taylor, gunman and thief
THURGOOD — "Red Ted" Theodore, Labor Premier of Queensland in 1919. Federal Treasurer; mining and business magnate
TINN, Ted — Tod Thye, wrestler
TRUMBLEWOOD, Thos — Thos Tunnecliffe, Labor M.P. for Collingwood, Speaker 1937-40
WATTY, Jim — Jack Welsh, Secretary, Milk Distributors Association
WEST family — Wren family
WOODMAN, Paddy — Paddy Boardman
Judges not mentioned by name
Judge Neighbour — First Criminal Case
Judge Gavan Duffy — Milk Board Royal Commission
CARRINGBUSH — Collingwood
RALSTONE — Richmond
APSOM — Epsom
JACKSON Street — Johnston Street
BAGVILLE Street — Sackville Street
SILVER Street — Gold Street
Hardy was tried for criminal libel in 1951 because of the depiction in the novel of "West's" wife having an affair but he was acquitted on the grounds that the work was, as he said, a mixture of fact and fiction. It was the last prosecution for criminal (as opposed to civil) libel in Victoria.
The case attracted enormous publicity, coinciding as it did with the anti-Communist referendum and served mainly to give the novel and the negative portrayal of Wren greater prominence. Hardy later detailed his experiences during the case in his book The Hard Way.
Hardy's inclusion of Ellen's ("Nellie's") affair with bricklayer Bill Egan, who worked on the Wren mansion, was based on Wren's own belief that his daughter Angela was the illegitimate product of that affair. Just prior to the book's first (underground) publication, Hardy was wracked with uncertainty as to whether it was ethical to include the episode: he was worried about the book's impact on the "living innocents". He was eventually convinced to include it by the former Communist Party leader JB Miles and, it seems, Angela herself, who is portrayed in the book as "Xavier". (Hardy was originally going to call the character "Annette" but changed the baby's sex to provide another layer of protection for Angela.) The real-life Angela committed suicide in 1956 and although Hardy's latest biographer Jenny Hocking (professor) was unable to find concrete evidence for Angela's assistance, she believes that it was provided.
In 1976, the novel was made into a 26 episode ABC-TV series starring Martin Vaughan as West. While "Nellie's" affair with the brickie is depicted, the affair does not produce a child. The series won numerous Logie, Penguin and Sammy Awards.
Football commentator Rex Hunt traditionally refers to Collingwood as "the Carringbush"
- Power Without Glory at MemorableTV.com
- [ TV Week 1977 Logie Awards]
- James Griffin, 'Wren, John (1871–1953)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 12 (Melb UP, 1990), 580; online.
- Jason Steger, 'Mrs Wren and the brickie: The veil lifted', the Age (Melbourne), 12 Nov 2005; online.
- Jenny Hocking, Frank Hardy: Politics, Literature, Life (Lothian, 2005).
- Macintyre, Stewart (1998). The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia from Origins to Illegality. Allen & Unwin.