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Henry Parkes
, 1892

by H. Walter Barnett

platinum photograph (sheet: 30.3 cm x 24.4 cm, image: 19.8 cm x 15.1 cm)

The Hon Sir Henry Parkes GCMG (1815–1896) was five times premier of New South Wales between 1872 and 1891, and a consistent advocate for union of the colonies (Federation). Parkes was a man of meagre formal education but immense energy, and his stints as premier were only one aspect of a multifarious life encompassing three marriages; many children; five volumes of verse; several prose works; numerous pamphlets; hundreds of letters; and a series of reversals of fortune, including several bankruptcies. By 1881, 25 years after winning his seat on the first New South Wales Legislative Assembly, he was recognised abroad as ‘the most commanding figure in Australian politics’. Near the end of his political career, in October 1889, he made the speech at Tenterfield, New South Wales, that earned him the title of Father of Federation, calling for a federal convention to work out ‘a great National government for all Australia’. Three years later, after the first Federal Convention in 1891, he completed his book Fifty Years in the Making of Australian History (1892).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2001
Accession number: 2001.166