Sir Redmond Barry was the pre-eminent figure in Melbourne of the middle years of last century. A Supreme Court judge for thirty years, he was the founding and sustaining force behind the University of Melbourne, the Supreme Court Library, the Public Library, the National Gallery and the Museum. As social and cultural benefactor, he stands alone.
Paradox pervaded his life. While seen by many as a hidebound, even villainous judge, his trust in the rule of law underpinned, for example, an unusually sympathetic and active response to the Aboriginal people. Yet fear of losing social standing and his Irish family's esteem blinkered him to injustice on his own doorstep. The story of his unacknowledged relationship of thirty years with Louisa Barrow, and of their four illegitimate children, is perplexing and often painful in the telling. This important biography is long overdue.
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