News and work in progress

Wire Curtain launched

Launched on 5 December 2023, The Wire Curtain School traces the earliest years of Maribyrnong High School from its foundation in 1958 until 1965.

Much more than a school history, this book is an important contribution to our understanding of growing up in Melbourne’s western suburbs during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Barbara Pertzel has crafted a fine collective memoir of her school generation and told it with compassion, humour and insight.
Timeline Launch

Launch of Association of Coeducational Schools digital timeline

On 6 September 2023, the Association of Coeducational Schools celebrated its 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the organisation commissioned HistorySmiths to prepare a digital timeline. Research carried out by Sophie Church and interviews done by Fiona Walters form the basis of the completed timeline. Fabulous photographs and audio from the interviews are also included:

Uncle John

The Myth of Uncle John

Published by HistorySmiths in July 2023, this biography of John Wilkinson was written by his great-nephew Dr Roger Wilkinson. His great-uncle had been a general practitioner, specialist physician, churchman and an early eco-tourist in the Victorian high country. He had also been instrumental in bringing insulin into Australia after witnessing the effects of the ‘wonder’ drug first-hand during the early months of its use in Toronto, Canada. Available at our online bookstore.

Kindle the Flame

Launched in February 2023, Kindle the Flame is a new history of Ravenswood School for Girls (NSW) commissioned to celebrate its 120th anniversary milestone in 2021. Unusually, Sophie Church’s task was to use as her main source the research undertaken by Marjorie Binns for the centenary school history, published in 2001. Sophie wrote a completely new
narrative, to also include the most recent two decades, and all graduating Year 12 students
will be given a copy of the book. The book is published by the school.


Torchbearers: A centenary history of Carey Baptist Grammar School

Torchbearers: A centenary history of Carey Baptist Grammar School was also launched in February 2023. A major work of over 100,000 words and 550 images, this was a three-year commissioned history project. Torchbearers is published by HistorySmiths. It is Helen
Penrose’s tenth major history of an independent school.

A Vintage Class: Royal Military College Duntroon 1958–61

February 2023 also saw the launch of A Vintage Class: Royal Military College Duntroon 1958–61 by Sophie Church. It is a forthright and lively account of the formative experiences of the class members who started at Duntroon in 1958. Six decades on — having served Australia and New Zealand in armed combat, and after retiring from careers in the Army, academia, the arts, finance and industry — members of the class reflect on their time at
Duntroon with gratitude for the opportunities they were given, and the lifelong friendships formed. The book is published by HistorySmiths and is available at our online bookstore

Lonsdale Links, 1922-2022

Lonsdale Links, 1922–2022 celebrates the centenary of the Point Lonsdale golf club, now
known as Lonsdale Links. Working with manuscripts produced by three club members at different times during the club’s history, Helen Penrose edited and rewrote them to create a
single text, conducting new research along the way and writing new sections to bring it up to date. The book was launched in November 2022 and is published by HistorySmiths.

Royal Military College Duntroon Class of 1958-61

The RMC Duntroon class of 1958–61 has commissioned HistorySmiths to write and publish a history of their class spanning the four years of their time at the college. Sophie Church is relishing the opportunity to write a lively and engaging account of the class’s activities and how their training at Duntroon impacted their military and non-military careers. The book will be published in late 2022.


eBook for St Columba Anglican School, Port Macquarie

Using an illustrated timeline, HistorySmiths is curating, editing and designing a short eBook for St Columba Anglican School, Port Macquarie, to be published online in 2022 to celebrate the school’s twentieth anniversary.

A new history of Ravenswood School for Girls

Sophie Church has completed writing a history of this much-loved Sydney school, which this year celebrated its 120th anniversary. Beautifully illustrated with photos and memorabilia from the school archives, the book will be released to the school community early next year.




RSPCA Victoria celebrates 150 years

In July 2021 RSPCA Victoria marked 150 years of working to prevent cruelty to animals. The first 135 years of that work was examined in For all creatures: a history of RSPCA Victoria (2006), by Barbara Pertzel. An update to that work, presented online in three new supplementary chapters written by Helen Penrose, was launched in November.


Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack: More than a Bauhaus artist

We are very proud to announce that the long-awaited biography of Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack is now available from our online bookstore! Written by Resi Schwarzbauer with the assistance of Hirschfeld-Mack’s grandson, Chris Bell, this book has been more than two decades in the making. Featuring over 200 black-and-white and colour images, and drawing on extensive private family archives and oral histories, it reveals the full story of Hirschfeld-Mack’s extraordinary life in detail.

Praise from admiring readers:

‘It is a beautiful book and worthy of its subject.’

‘The quality of the book is superb. HistorySmiths has produced a magnificent book.’

‘I finished reading the book last night, having done little else since its arrival on Monday! What an amazing person Ludwig was.’


A clear view to broad horizons — the memoirs of Paul McKeown

In this book of edited memoirs, former headmaster of Canberra Grammar School, Paul McKeown, reflects on a lifetime in education, ranging from his own schooldays at Canberra Grammar, to university years in Sydney and Oxford, and to formative teaching experiences at the Dragon School, Outward Bound Mountain School, Northampton Remand Home and Geelong Grammar School’s Timbertop campus. 

A book review was published in the 2021 edition of Independence Journal. The reviewer, Robert Grant AM, said: ‘[His memoirs] are now provided in an uncomplicated, engaging, well-illustrated publication, admirably managed by Sophie Church of HistorySmiths, who has drawn upon a wide circle of Paul’s family, friends and professional acquaintances. She has skilfully integrated diverse contributions within the core text. The result is an informative and eminently readable account of the life of an outstanding Australian educator.’

Praise from an admiring reader: ‘The most interesting book I’ve read in a very long time. Once I’d put it down, I couldn’t wait to pick it up again. Paul McKeown led a very interesting life and was able to convey this in his writing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and would certainly recommend it.’


Healing historical harm

Helen Penrose has developed expertise in handling the sensitive matter of historical harm when writing school histories. She has explained how she approaches this difficult topic in her peer-reviewed paper ‘Out of the darkness, into the light: recording child sexual abuse narratives’, published in Circa: the journal of professional historians Issue 7.

Winner! More Than Just Housing

We are delighted to announce that More Than Just Housing: The Southport Community Housing Group Story 1983–2018 has won the Local History — Small Publication Award at the 2019 Victorian Community History Awards. The authors, Beris Campbell, Janet Goodwin and Heather McKee, worked closely with editor Helen Penrose of HistorySmiths and Lynda Patullo of Green Poles Design to produce an engaging and visually appealing publication that records the work of this important community group. 

‘The handsome book itself is a source of pride for all the social workers and tenants involved.’ (VCHA judges)

From left: Helen Penrose with author Janet Goodwin, president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria Richard Broome, and authors Beris Campbell and Heather McKee. (Image courtesy VCHA)

Carey Baptist Grammar School centenary publication

Opened in 1923, Carey Baptist Grammar School in Kew was the first Baptist independent school to be established in Australia. Since early 2019 historian Helen Penrose has been immersed in research for the school’s centenary history. The result will be a major publication for Carey’s centenary in 2023.