Frank Hardy

Frank HardyFrancis Joseph Hardy was born at Southern Cross in western Victoria and later moved with his family to Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne. His mother, Winifred, was a Roman Catholic – his father, Thomas, a non-believer of Welsh and English descent. In 1931 Hardy left school, aged 14, and embarked upon a series of manual jobs. According to Hardy biographer Pauline Armstrong, “his first job was as a messenger and bottlewasher at the local chemist’s shop” and then Hardy worked at the local grocer. He later also did manual work “in and around Bacchus Marsh in the milk factory, digging potatoes, picking tomatoes and fruit”.

There is some debate among Hardy’s biographers about the relative extent Hardy personally suffered from hardships during the 1930s depression. Hardy claimed himself that he left home when he was 13 because “his dad couldn’t get the dole” with him at home. However, Jim Hardy, Frank’s eldest brother, wrote to the Melbourne Herald on 6 November 1983 to rebut this assertion, claiming that Frank had never had to leave home – further noting that their “father never lost a day’s work in his life”. According to biographer Jenny Hocking  in a more recent biography,

Tom Hardy indeed did lose his job at a milk factory at the start of the Great Depression, and the family had had to move into a small rented house in Lerderderg Street. As a result of his experiences during the Depression, Hardy joined the Communist Party of Australia in 1939. According to Armstrong, Hardy enlisted in the Australian armed forces on 10 May 1943.[1][2] He was later posted to Mataranka in the Northern Territory which was under “perpetual anticipation” of attack from the Japanese. Initially editing and writing a unit newspaper for the Australian army, he was employed as an artist for the army journal, Salt. He continued to work in journalism for most of his life. Although he opposed the foundation of the Australian Society of Authors for political reasons in 1963, he later joined the Society and served on its Management Committee. He played an active role in assisting the Gurindji people in the Gurindji strike in the mid to late 1960s.

His most famous work, Power Without Glory, initially published by Hardy himself with the assistance of Communist Party members, was filmed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) in 1976. The novel was a fictionalised version of the life of a Melbourne businessman, John Wren, and was set in the fictitious Melbourne suburb of Carringbush (based on the actual suburb Collingwood). In 1950, Hardy was arrested for criminal libel and had to defend the book in a celebrated case shortly after the publication of Power Without Glory. Hardy detailed the case in his book The Hard Way.