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Power Without Glory

Power Without Glory
Author Frank Hardy
Country Australia
Language English
Genre Thriller, novel
Publisher Random House
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 660 pp
OCLC 47707257

Power Without Glory is a 1950 novel written by Australian writer Frank Hardy. It was later adapted into a mini-series by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1976).


  • Publication 1
  • Novel 2
  • Characters and real-life equivalents 3
    • Judges not mentioned by name 3.1
    • Locations 3.2
  • Court case 4
  • Cultural influence 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7


The work was originally self-published, with illustrations by Hardy's friend and fellow Communist "Amb" Dyson, with the rubric "a novel in three parts by Frank J. Hardy, Ross Franklyn". "Ross Franklyn" was the pseudonym Hardy had always used prior to Power Without Glory. This combination of real name and pen name was also used in Hardy's 1961 book The Hard Way which describes the difficulties "Ross Franklyn" had in having the book published, and the problems Frank Hardy faced in answering the criminal libel charge against him arising from the publication.[1]


The novel is a fictionalised version of the life of Melbourne businessman and Australian Labor Party power-broker, John Wren. It is largely set in the fictitious Melbourne suburb of Carringbush, which is based on the actual suburbs of Abbotsford and Collingwood. In the novel, West is involved in criminal activities and political machinations, particularly related to gambling.

The book includes many characters based on other important social and political figures in Victoria and Australia, including:

A fuller list of characters and locations is provided in the following section "Characters and real-life equivalents".

The barely-disguised inspiration for the "West" character is made clear by the fact that West, like Wren, has a brother called "Arthur" who spent time in jail for aiding and abetting a crime of rape. (Wren's other brother, Joseph, also appears in the novel.) Wren's wife Ellen (née Mahon) appears as "Nellie", and there is mention in the novel of his children: his violinist daughter Margaret, his son John Jr., and another daughter, who becomes a Communist, resembles Wren's radical daughter Mary, who was an active member of the Movement Against War and Fascism.

The novel is partly set during World War I, and the debate about conscription is a major issue in the novel. John West is a fierce patriot who supports conscription, and his sometimes fiery arguments with the Irish-Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, who opposes conscription on the grounds that to send men to aid England was contrary to his, and Ireland's, historical enmity with that country.

Characters and real-life equivalents

  • ASHTON, Frank — Frank Anstey, Labor politician and social propagandist
  • BENNETT (The Gentleman Thief) — Hon. W.J. Beckett, M.L.C. for Melbourne North, Melbourne East & Melbourne
  • BLACKWELL, Maurice — Maurice Blackburn, State Labor MP for Essendon, Fitzroy & Clifton Hill. Federal Labor M.P. for Bourke
  • BLAIRE — (Sir) Thomas Blamey, army general and Victorian Police Commissioner 1925–1936
  • BOND, Thomas — (Sir) Thomas Bent, 32nd Premier of Victoria 1904-1909
  • BRADLEY, Richard — Richard Buckley, notorious criminal
  • BRADY, William — Bill Barry, Victorian Labor M.P. for Carlton, minister in various Cain Governments
  • CALLINAN, Police Commissioner — Thomas O'Callaghan, Police Commissioner 1902–1913
  • CAMERON — Campbell, Cycling Promoter Exhibition
  • CARR, John — John Cain, leader of Victorian ALP, Premier on three occasions
  • CONN (Archbishop) — Thomas Carr, Catholic archbishop of Melbourne preceding Daniel Mannix
  • CORY, Pat — Pat Cody of Australian Distilleries
  • CREGAN, J. — Jack Cremean, Federal M.P. for Hoddle
  • CUTTING, Slasher — Snowy Cutmore, gunman and thief
  • DARBY, Lou — Les Darcy
  • DAVISON, Alfie — (Sir) Albert Dunstan, conservative Victorian Premier 1935 -1943
  • DEVLIN, Dr. — Sir Hugh Devine, surgeon
  • DWYER, Godfrey — (Sir) Gilbert Dyett, long-time President of the R.S.L.
  • EVANS, Bill — Bill Egan, bricklayer
  • GARSIDE, David — David Gaunson, prominent criminal solicitor
  • GIBBON, Sir S. — (Sir) Samuel Gillott, Chief Secretary in the Bent Cabinet
  • HORAN, Ned — Ned Hogan, twice Labor Premier of Victoria
  • JOGGINS, Rev. — Rev. William Judkins, prominent anti-vice crusader and preacher
  • JOLLY, Bob — Bob Solly, Labor M.P. for Carlton in Victorian Parliament for many years
  • KELLEHER, Paddy — Pat Kennelly, M.L.C. for Melbourne West; Federal Secretary, A.L.P.
  • KIELY, Michael — Stan Keon, Victorian Member for Richmond, later Federal M.P. for Yarra
  • LAMB, Richard — Dick Lean, manager of Melbourne Stadium
  • LAMBERT, Percy — Percy Laidler, bookshop owner & theatrical supplier, socialist organiser and orator
  • LAMMENCE, Frank — Frank Laurence, former secretary of John Wren
  • LASSITER family — Loughnan family
  • LEVY, Ben — Ben Nathan, co-founder of Maples furniture and music store chain
  • LEWIS, Piggy — Piggy Ryan, alias Williamson, gunman and stand-over man
  • LANE — Jack Lang, NSW Labor leader and Premier
  • McCORKELL — William McCormack, Labor Premier of Queensland
  • MALONE, Daniel — (Dr.) Daniel Mannix, Catholic archbishop of Melbourne
  • MANSON, "Plugger" Pete — "Plugger" Bill Martin, cyclist
  • MORAN family — Mahon family
  • MORTON, Jim — Jim Morley, communist organiser; journalist with the 'Morning Post'
  • MURKETT, Kenneth — (Sir) Keith Murdoch, journalist & newspaper proprietor
  • O'FLAHERTY, Dave — Detective O'Donnell, Chief of the Gaming Squad
  • PARELLI — Pellegrini
  • PARKER, Oliver — Clyde Palmer, journalist on The Truth newspaper
  • REAL, T.J. — T. J. Ryan, Premier of Queensland
  • REDMON, Ron — Ron Richards, Aboriginal boxer
  • RENFREY, Sugar — Robert "Sugar" Roberts, Mayor of Collingwood
  • ROBINSON, Barney — Barney Reynolds, a member of John Wren's staff
  • SANDOW — Ad Santel, champion wrestler
  • SCOTT, Bob — possibly another name for Bob Solly (see JOLLY, Bob)
  • SOLOMON, Sol — Sol Green, noted bookmaker
  • SQUEERS, Bill — Bill Squires, boxer
  • SUMMER, James — James Scullin, Labor M.P., Prime Minister 1929-32
  • SWINTON — (Sir) George Swinburne, engineer, politician and philanthropist
  • TANNER, Snoopy — Squizzy Taylor, gunman and thief
  • THURGOOD — "Red Ted" Theodore, Labor Premier of Queensland 1919-1925, federal Treasurer, mining and business magnate
  • TINN, Ted — Ted Thye, wrestler
  • TRUMBLEWOOD, Thomas — Tom Tunnecliffe, Labor M.P. for Collingwood, Speaker 1937-40
  • WATTY, Jim — Jack Welsh, Secretary, Milk Distributors Association
  • WEST family — Wren family
  • WOODMAN, Paddy — Paddy Boardman, associate of Squizzy Taylor

Judges not mentioned by name

  • Judge Neighbour — First Criminal Case
  • Judge Gavan Duffy — Milk Board Royal Commission


  • CARRINGBUSHCollingwood
  • RALSTONE — Richmond
  • APSOM — Epsom Racecourse, Mordialloc
  • BAGVILLE STREET — Sackville Street, Richmond
  • JACKSON STREET — Johnston Street, Fitzroy & Collingwood
  • RICHTON – Richmond Racecourse
  • SILVER STREET — Gold Street, Collingwood

Court case

Hardy was tried for criminal libel in 1951 because of the depiction in the novel of "West's" wife having an affair but he was acquitted on the grounds that the work was, as he said, a mixture of fact and fiction. It was the last prosecution for criminal (as opposed to civil) libel in Victoria.

The case attracted enormous publicity, coinciding as it did with the anti-Communist referendum and served mainly to give the novel and the negative portrayal of Wren greater prominence. Hardy later detailed his experiences during the case in his book The Hard Way.

Hardy's inclusion of Ellen's ("Nellie's") affair with bricklayer Bill Egan, who worked on the Wren mansion, was based on Wren's own belief that his daughter Angela was the illegitimate product of that affair. Just prior to the book's first (underground) publication, Hardy was wracked with uncertainty as to whether it was ethical to include the episode: he was worried about the book's impact on the "living innocents". He was eventually convinced to include it by the former Communist Party leader JB Miles and, it seems, Angela herself, who is portrayed in the book as "Xavier". (Hardy was originally going to call the character "Annette" but changed the baby's sex to provide another layer of protection for Angela.) The real-life Angela committed suicide in 1956 and although Hardy's latest biographer Jenny Hocking (professor) was unable to find concrete evidence for Angela's assistance, she believes that it was provided.

Cultural influence

In 1976, the novel was made into a 26 episode ABC-TV series starring Martin Vaughan as West. While "Nellie's" affair with the brickie is depicted, the affair does not produce a child. The series won numerous Logie, Penguin and Sammy Awards.[2][3] Football commentator Rex Hunt traditionally refers to Collingwood as "the Carringbush"


  1. ^ "The living are few, Frank tells us, But The Dead Are Many" (PDF). Trojan Press. Retrieved 2015-01-18. 
  2. ^ "Power Without Glory". Memorable TV. Retrieved 2015-01-18. 
  3. ^ "Logie Awards 1974 -177". Retrieved 2015-01-18. 

Further reading

  • Griffin, James. "Wren, John (1871–1953)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 2015-01-18. 
  • Hocking, Jenny (2005). Frank Hardy : politics, literature, life. Melbourne: Lothian.  
  • Macintyre, Stewart (1998). The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia from Origins to Illegality. St. Leonards, N.S.W: Allen & Unwin.  
  • Steger, Jason (2005-11-12). "Mrs Wren and the brickie: the veil lifted". The Age. Retrieved 2015-01-18. 
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