Author(s): Philip Ayres
One life, many roles: soldier, brilliant barrister, High Court judge, Governor-General, Australian diplomat, mediator in Northern Ireland, member of the first war crimes tribunal since Nuremburg and Tokyo, head of UN and Commonwealth missions to crisis zones from Cambodia to Burma to Bangladesh, Sir Ninian Stephen is the recipient of five knighthoods and the most honoured Australian in history and yet precisely because so much of his work was international it has rarely received the notice it deserves in his home country. In this, the first whole-of-life biography of the subject, Philip Ayres traces Stephen's early life in Scotland, England and around continental Europe, from Edinburgh and the Highlands to the spa towns of France and Germany, from the ski runs above Montreux to the Nuremberg Rally of 1938, including the details of his education at outstanding British and Swiss schools and his highly unorthodox familyo life as an only child with an absent father, the details of which, like so much here, have never previously been revealed.
All this constitutes the unknown Ninian Stephen, and yet so much else in this book is new: the wartime Stephen, the barrister Stephen, and all the other aspects of his life traced in precise yet dramatic detail in a book whose momentum is generated through unique access to the full resources of the subject's personal papers.
Philip Ayres is the author of Owen Dixon, of Malcolm Fraser, of Mawson (still the only whole-of-life biography of its subject aside from Lady Mawson's), of Prince of the Church (on Cardinal Moran, the first Australian cardinal), and of numerous scholarly books and articles on English eighteenth-century culture including Classical Culture and the Idea of Rome in Eighteenth Century England. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Historical Society of London and the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and a recipient of the Centenary Medal for contributions to literature.