Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

Skip to content
  • Click to view this Image

    Mrs Amirah Inglis completing a book about the Spanish Civil War, 1986, courtesy of Australian National University (ANU). Photographer unknown. Used with permission..
    Details

Exhibitions

  • From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Woman

  • Trove

Inglis, Amirah (1926 - 2015)

Born
7 December 1926
Brussels, Belgium
Died
2 May 2015
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Occupation
Author and Political activist

Summary

Amirah Inglis was a devoted and active member of the Communist Party in Australia during the politically turbulent Menzies era. Her autobiographical works describe the difficulties and confusion of growing up a migrant in Australia, born of Polish-Jewish parents. She has also written essays, reviews and books on Papua New Guinea, and on the Spanish Civil War.

The hammer & sickle and the washing up: memories of an Australian woman Communist includes descriptions of Amirah's life in Canberra in the 1960s, and her marriage to academic Ken Inglis.

Details

Amirah's father, Itzhak Gutstadt (later changed to Gust), migrated to Melbourne in 1928. Amirah and her mother joined him there in 1929.

Two of her books tell the story of her life.
Amirah, an Un-Australian Childhood, published by William Heinemann Australia in 1983 and reprinted 1984, 1985 and in paperback 1989, a 'loving and sensuous account…paints a perfect sociological portrait' (Weekend Australian) of Melbourne in the 1930s and 1940s. It portrays her loving, Polish Jewish Communist parents and the joys and difficulties of living as migrants.
The Hammer and Sickle and the Washing Up, Hyland House, Melbourne, 1995, tells of her involvement with the Communist Party of Australia during the 1950's and 60's, including the Menzies government's attempts to outlaw the Communist Party and the Petrov Affair. It is Amirah's story: her struggle to balance political activism and family responsibilities.

Amirah Inglis' other books reflect a desire to understand the complexities of her world within the framework of the humanitarian, internationalist, European-based communist ideology of her migrant parents and the completely new world of Papua New Guinea where she lived and worked between 1967-1974.

In 1998 in an interview with Sarah Dowse (4 digital audio tapes, held at the National Library of Australia) Inglis speaks of her current project, editing her Polish-born father's memoirs; her family and her own childhood in Melbourne; her political activism as a member of the Communist Party of Australia; her marriage to Ian Turner and events surrounding their move to Canberra in the 1960s; her involvement with the Australian National University and her teaching position at Lyneham High School; her second marriage to Ken Inglis and how their move to New Guinea in the 1970s was the inspiration for her first book which launched her writing career.[1]

Amirah Inglis died in Melbourne on 2 May 2015, aged 88.

[1] Summary from National Library of Australia

Sources used to compile this entry: From Lady Denman to Katy Gallagher: A Century of Women's Contributions to Canberra, Australian Women's Archives Project, February 2013, http://www.womenaustralia.info/exhib/ldkg; The summary note was prepared by Ros Russell. The main entry was researched and prepared by Mary Sexton, using sources from the National Library of Australia and personal knowledge..

Related entries

Related Exhibitions

Archival resources

Noel Butlin Archives Centre

  • Amirah Inglis - Records, 1930 -2006, 1930 - 2006, NBAC N171; Inglis, Amirah (1926 - 2015); Noel Butlin Archives Centre. Details

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • Fitzpatrick, Kathleen Elizabeth, 1914 - 1982, 95/85; Fitzpatrick, Kathleen Elizabeth (1905 - 1990); The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Digital resources

Title
Mrs Amirah Inglis completing a book about the Spanish Civil War
Type
Image
Date
1986
Source
Australian National University (ANU). Photographer unknown. Used with permission.

Details

Title
Amirah Inglis Biography
Type
Biography
Date
February 2004

Details

Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

© Copyright in The Australian Women's Register is owned by the Australian Women's Archives Project
and vested in each of the authors in respect of their contributions from 2000

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE0445b.htm

The Australian Women's Register is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124