Russel Ward

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Russel Ward
Born9 November 1914
Adelaide, South Australia
Died13 August 1995(1995-08-13) (aged 80)
Armidale, New South Wales
AwardsErnest Scott Prize (1958)
Member of the Order of Australia (1987)
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Adelaide (BA [Hons], MA)
Australian National University (PhD)
ThesisThe ethos and influence of the Australian pastoral worker (1956)
Academic work
InstitutionsUniversity of New England
Main interestsAustralian culture and identity
Notable worksThe Australian Legend (1958)

Russel Braddock Ward AM (9 November 1914 – 13 August 1995) was an Australian historian best known as the author of The Australian Legend (1958), an examination of the development of the "Australian character".

Ward studied English at the University of Adelaide and taught at Geelong and Sydney Grammar Schools. He was at the University of New England as a lecturer (1957) and deputy chancellor for eight years. During World War II he served in an army psychological unit.

Ward's membership of the Communist Party of Australia (1941 to 1949) brought him to the attention of ASIO; and, in 1984, he appeared before the Hope Royal Commission on Australia's security and intelligence agencies stating that ASIO had harassed him for 40 years.[1]

In his book, The Australian Legend (colloquially known as Legend), Ward argued that the Australian bush was egalitarian and that this influenced Australian culture. Ward's book was both influential and controversial and is grouped among the classic historical references on Australia history.[1] In the 40 years since its first publication, there were three editions and it has been reprinted 15 times.[2] While the images of the Australian character in Legend may not seem to reflect modern views, it is a book that "inform[s] Australians about the forces that have shaped them",[1] and it raises questions that continue to be debated.

1981 edition of The Australian Legend by Russel Ward

His thesis in Legend was later challenged by Humphrey McQueen in 1970.[3] It would influence the development of the Australian New Left. [4][5]


  • Felons and folksongs (1955) Canberra University College, Canberra
  • The Australian Legend (1958) Oxford University Press, Melbourne
  • A Nation for a Continent: the history of Australia, 1901–1975 (1977) Heinemann Educational Australia, Richmond
  • Australia Since the Coming of Man (1982) Lansdowne Press, Sydney
  • Finding Australia: the history of Australia to 1821 (1987) Heinemann Educational Australia, Richmond
  • A Radical Life: The Autobiography of Russel Ward, (1988) MacMillan, South Melbourne, Australia

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Stephens, Tony (17 May 2003). "Mate, you're a legend". Sydney Morning Herald.
  2. ^ Jordan, Matthew (2004-12-01). A Spirit of True Learning: The Jubilee History of the University of New England. UNSW Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-86840-663-3.
  3. ^ McQueen, H. A New Britannia: an argument concerning the social origins of Australian radicalism and nationalism, (1970) Penguin, Ringwood, Victoria
  4. ^ Williams-Brooks, Llewellyn (2016). "Radical Theories of Capitalism in Australia", Honours Thesis, University of Sydney, viewed 20 April 2017,[1]
  5. ^ Arnold, J (2000), "Australian History in Print: a bibliographical survey of influential twentieth-century texts" for the National Inquiry into School History – Appendix D: Australian History in Print: a bibliographical survey of influential twentieth-century texts Archived 6 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine., DEST