Hilliard, Chris

Hilliard, Chris

In Brief

Chris Hilliard is a historian and lecturer. Educated at the University of Auckland and Harvard University, Hilliard’s first two books focus on cultural and literary history in Britain and New Zealand. He says that his third book, To Exercise our Talents, ‘examines how people from backgrounds not traditionally conducive to literary careers sought to become writers’. Hilliard has also had essays about cultural and literary history published in a number of journals and anthologies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hilliard, Chris (1972 – ) is a historian. He was born in Auckland and educated at the University of Auckland and Harvard University. Hilliard is a lecturer in History at the University of Sydney, where he specialises in modern British history.

Hilliard’s first two publications, To Exercise Our Talents: The Democratization of Writing in Britain (Harvard University Press), and The Bookmen’s Dominion: Cultural Life in New Zealand, 1920–1950 (Auckland University Press), were both published in 2006.

Both books focus on cultural and literary history. The Bookmen’s Dominion examines the changes in Pakeha cultural discussion that occurred between the two world wars. Reviewing The Bookmen’s Dominion for The Dominion Post (1 July, 2006), Lawrence Jones writes that it ‘opens up a neglected area of cultural history and it makes an especially strong contribution in looking at the treatment of the history of Pakeha-Maori relations by the non-university historians Buick and Cowan.’

Hilliard describes To Exercise our Talents as being about ‘literary history from below’. He says: ‘it examines how people from backgrounds not traditionally conducive to literary careers sought to become writers, and the different things that literature and creativity meant to them.’

Reviewing To Exercise our Talents in the Times Literary Supplement (20 October, 2006), Jonathan Rose comments that ‘offbeat research makes To Exercise our Talents an unexpectedly intriguing tour through the suburbs of literature. Never sneering or glamorizing, Christopher Hilliard respects workaday authors and understands that, by their own lights, they did achieve something worth remembering. Their writing may have been dreadful, but their story is fascinating.’

Hilliard has had a number of essays about cultural and literary history published in journals such as the New Zealand Journal of History and the Journal of Modern History. Essays are also published in Going Public: The Changing Face of New Zealand History (Auckland University Press, 2001) and Fragments: New Zealand Social & Cultural History (Auckland University Press, 2000).

Chris Hilliard lives in Sydney.

MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS

Updated January 2017.