Talking History Online: Jennifer Cockburn on WRITING FOR HIS LIFE with Simon Royal

Stewart Cockburn was probably the most prominent, and certainly the most controversial, journalist to write for the Advertiser during those golden years of newspaper journalism.

— John Scales, Former Advertiser editor

Join us to hear Jennifer Cockburn talk about her most recent book, WRITING FOR HIS LIFE: Stewart Cockburn, Crusading Journalist with former ABC journalist Simon Royal.

As a journalist, Stewart Cockburn was instinctive and fearless. The 16-year-old copy boy who started at the Adelaide Advertiser in 1938 was to have a career in writing, radio and television that spanned more than 45 years. Cockburn’s daughter Jennifer was inspired by her father’s fascination with people and his writings about them. When she started reading through his papers in the early 2000s, she realized that he was a perfect subject for a biography. WRITING FOR HIS LIFE draws on Stewart Cockburn’s prolific correspondence and journals, his oral histories, public writings and other sources to bring to life a driven journalist and the changing times he so closely observed.

This free public online lecture is part of the History Trust’s Talking History series. Bookings via Eventbrite.

Stewart Cockburn, photographer Ainslie Roberts

Jennifer Cockburn

Jennifer Cockburn, a career international lawyer, retired in 2008 with the idea of writing a biography of her father, the late Australian journalist and author Stewart Cockburn. The result, WRITING FOR HIS LIFE: Stewart Cockburn, Crusading Journalist, was published by Australian Scholarly Publishing in May 2022.

Ms Cockburn was born in Canberra, Australia, and grew up in Adelaide and Canberra, with a two-year period in Washington, DC in the early 1960s when her father was Press Attaché at the Australian Embassy there. She graduated from the Australian National University with a BA in Political Science and an LLB (Hons) degree, and later earned her Master of Laws at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Prior to settling in the Washington area, she spent two years in Philadelphia, where she worked for a civil rights lawyer on police brutality and employment discrimination cases against the City of Philadelphia.  In Washington she pursued a nearly thirty-year legal career, first in private practice and then at the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group.

Simon Royal

Simon Royal has been a TV and radio broadcaster for more than 30 years, working on ABC state and national programmes in both mediums. An inveterate late bloomer/procrastinator, he’s more recently turned his hand to writing feature articles for InDaily and ABC online. Simon is interested in most things, except football – a firm resolve that came to him at an early age. Growing up in country South Australia in the late 60s/70s, this presented some social difficulties, although he seems to have largely recovered from that now. He is besotted with Irish Terriers and John F. Kennedy, having written his postgraduate diploma thesis about the latter, and a series of essays on the former. He is deeply drawn to things with a devil may care attitude, as well as lost causes.

Images: Stewart Cockburn, photographer Ainslie Roberts (top), Jennifer Cockburn, photographer Elliott O’Donovan and Simon Royal, courtesy Simon Royal (above)