Your name on this page I write
because of your ranging mind
which stands on the heaving centre
yet is eager to know and enter
all things in this universe
so strangely, simply designed

                       -Jack Lindsay, ‘To Hugh McDiarmid’


The aim of this project was to identify how Jack Lindsay was able to move critically across disciplines and across media to create an understanding of cultural and social practices and their impact on the formation of embodied social subjects – a mode of analysis and knowledge-formation that is vital today, in a world that is increasingly multimedia, multimodal, trans-disciplinary and trans-cultural.

In order to achieve this aim, a set of interrelated issues was identified and subsequently clarified as a set of research areas:

  • Jack Lindsay’s life experience and its contribution to his work
  • Lindsay’s understanding of writing as a way of articulating ideas and beliefs
  • Lindsay’s understanding of how writing engages readers with ideas and beliefs, identifying aesthetics as a political practice
  • Lindsay’s ability to identify the same aesthetic practice in other art-forms including visual arts, performance and music


The project had both material and scholarly outcomes. The material outcomes derive from the collaboration with Jack Lindsay’s family in the UK, particularly his daughter, Helen who generously gave her time and resources to an exploration of her father’s remaining personal archive of papers, memorabilia, published works and manuscripts.

Subsequently, Helen and Philip Lindsay donated a collection of Jack’s personal papers and memorabilia to the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Library to supplement its archive of Jack Lindsay’s work. The papers include collections of letters and diaries, along with an unpublished manuscript over over 115,000 words titled The Fullness of Life: The Autobiography of an Idea [ca.1971] that is his own extended analysis of his own writing and the development of his ideas.  As well the Library acquired an extensive collection of Jack Lindsay’s books to expand their archive of his published works.

In summary:  the donated materials include

  • Jack Lindsay’s extended analysis of his own writing, The Fullness of Life: The Autobiography of an Idea [ca.1971], which is published for the first time on this site
  • Lecture notes on the subject of ‘what happens to culture, to literature in particular, during the struggle for socialism’
  • Miscellaneous sound recording featuring Jack Lindsay, 1963-1990
  • Scrapbooks, 1936-1964
  • Soldier’s service and pay book, containing enlistment details (c.1941)
  • Jack Lindsay’s passport and address book
  • Letters
  • Lindsay family photograph album
  • Diaries from 1924-1925 (photocopy or original held in Mitchell Library, Sydney); 1954; 1956; 1960-63, 1969, the latter including Jack’s response to receiving notification of his father’s deathJL Badge of Honour-1
  • Family papers, including birth, marriage and citizenship certificates, including notification of the death of Janet Mary Beaton, Jack’s first wife in 1963, the year before Jack and Meta were married
  • Funeral Services for Jack Lindsay and Meta Lindsay
  • Badge of Honour (1967): awarded by the U.S.S.R. to Jack Lindsay in 1967 for his work in translating Russian prose and poetry
  • Order of Australia:  elected to the Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia (1981)
  • Badge of Honour (USSR, 1967)
  • Medal of the Order of Australia (1981)


Scholarly outcomes include publications and papers by the Chief Investigator, Professor Anne Cranny-Francis and papers by contributors to a symposium about the work of Jack Lindsay, convened by the CI.  Bibliographic details of these publications and papers are given on this page.

The CI has also delivered seven papers on the project, either directly about Lindsay or about issues of literacy and inter-disciplinarity fundamental to Lindsay’s writing. The academic venues for these papers include Western Sydney University, RMIT and the University of Technology Sydney and in 2017 she delivered the Sophia Holland annual lecture to the Australian Federation of Graduate Women (NSW) on the topic, ‘Jack Lindsay: Romantic Rebel’.  See details on this page.

This web site, Jack Lindsay: writer, Romantic, revolutionary offers unique online access to Lindsay’s unpublished typescript, ‘The Fullness of Life: The Autobiography of an Idea’, which is presented as both a scanned document and an edited typescript.  It also includes a biography of Jack Lindsay; introductions to Lindsay’s writing and his politics; samples of his letters; samples of the MI5 files kept on him; a bibliography of his books, as well as bibliographies of critical writings about his work, scholarly reviews, and some newspaper articles and notices.


On 11 April 2014 the CI organized and chaired a symposium about the work of Jack Lindsay and the issues it raises about the politics of knowledge.

Jack Lindsay 1985TITLE:  Jack Lindsay and the Politics of Knowledge

Venue:  University of Technology Sydney, Building 10, Level 14, Room 201

Date:  Friday, 11 April 2014, 10a.m. – 3.30 p.m.

Convenor:  Prof. Anne Cranny-Francis

Keynote speaker:   Ms Helen Lindsay, conservator and daughter of Jack Lindsay

For Jack Lindsay political commitment was not an attitude or mannerism to be adopted as the occasion demanded but was the touchstone for his whole life – his family, his relationships, his writings, his publishing, and his work as a cultural activist.  This symposium explores the work of Jack Lindsay and of others like him, who have led and sometimes goaded their contemporaries to examine what constitutes knowledge; how orthodoxies develop and are used to discipline thought, and how they operate as shields against new or different ways of knowing.

Contemporary revelations about surveillance technology, along with access to the secret service files on figures such as Lindsay, demonstrate how certain kinds of knowledge are suppressed by those in a position of political power or with the protection of that power.  This symposium, therefore, will explore topics such as the political and/or cultural legacy of Jack Lindsay; knowledge, disciplines and the academy; knowledge, politics and activism; knowledge and culture; knowledge and surveillance.


9.00 – 9.15 Welcome Welcome by the Dean, Professor Mary Spongberg
9.15-9.45 John Arnold Elza De Locre and Jack Lindsay
9.45-10.15 Christine Spittel “War’s just one black foulness”:  Jack Lindsay’s The Blood Vote and the orthodoxies of ANZAC
10.15-10.45 Paul Gillen Jack Lindsay as Marxist Historian
10.45 – 11.15 Morning tea
11.15-11.45 Nicole Moore A recognised trouble-maker wherever he goes’: ASIO’s redacted affect and the international reach of Australia’s cultural Cold War
11.45-1.00 Helen Lindsay KEYNOTE:  Jack Lindsay and MI5: more than surveillance
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch
2.00 – 2.30 Craig Munro Without treason: the political suppression of writer, editor and publisher PR Stephensen (1901-65)
2.30 – 3.00 Neil Morpeth Jack Lindsay’s world: Between Nietzsche and Marx and Marx and Nietzsche?
3.00 – 3.15 Afternoon tea  
3.15 – 3.45 Ilaria Vanni The Wild Body vs. the General Intellect: sensory knowledge and divergent forms of political engagement.
3.45 – 4.15 Anne Cranny-Francis Jack Lindsay’s biopolitics: sensory engagement as political practice
4.15 – 5.00 Visit to the Lindsay collections at UTS library & reception

After the symposium the journal, Australian Literary Studies published a number of the papers (see ‘Publications and Papers’).


The intellectual outcomes of the project will be discussed more fully in the book manuscript in preparation by the CI.  Some findings relate specifically to Jack Lindsay and his work:

  • knowledge of Lindsay’s intellectual development from his earliest reading of Romantic poetry and classical mythology to his ultimate goal of achieving a ‘fully Marxist aesthetic’
  • knowledge of Lindsay’s ongoing interest in the role of sensory engagement in the creation of meaning, beginning with his love of Romantic poetry and and mediated by his reading of Plato, and later of Marx
  • understanding the role of Lindsay’s deconstruction of knowledge systems in his ability to move across and between different fields of knowledge
  • understanding that for Lindsay knowledge was not a fetishized or alienated set of ideas but an embodied practice

Other findings address the significance of these outcomes for contemporary literacy and innovation:

  • understanding that knowledge cannot be conceptualised as a set of methods and ideas dissociated from social and political context
  • understanding that inter- and trans-disciplinary practice cannot be conducted without a fundamental analysis of the basis of disciplinary knowledges
  • understanding that trans-disciplinary collaborations can only happen with the disclosure of disciplinary assumptions and negotiation of differences
  • understanding that trans-disciplinary collaborations occur not simply between fields of knowledge but between individual embodied subjects.