Emeritus Professor Jenny Hocking

Name: Emeritus Professor Jenny Hocking FASSA

Email address: Jenny.hocking@monash.edu

Institutional Affiliation:

Monash University

Whitlam Institute at the Western Sydney University


Professor Jenny Hocking is an award-winning biographer, Emeritus Professor at Monash University and inaugural Distinguished Whitlam Fellow at the Whitlam Institute, Western Sydney University. She is the author of three biographies including the acclaimed two-volume biography of Gough Whitlam, short-listed for numerous literary awards including the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, The Age Book of the Year and the National Biography Award, and winner of the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Barbara Ramsden Award.

In 2016, she commenced legal action against the National Archives of Australia challenging the claimed ‘convention of royal secrecy’ and seeking access to the ‘Palace letters’ between the Queen and the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, relating to the dismissal of the Whitlam government. In May 2020, the High Court found in Jenny’s favour, ending the Queen’s embargo over the letters, and leading to their release. The Queen’s correspondence with 6 other Governors-General have since also been released.

Professor Hocking’s book The Palace Letters: The Queen, the governor-general, and the plot to dismiss Gough Whitlam, with a foreword by Malcolm Turnbull, tells the story of this archival journey and legal battle to secure the release of the Palace letters, and their impact on the history of the dismissal of the Whitlam government.

Current research projects on modern monarchy:

The Monarch’s correspondence with Governors-General, and Governors, how royal secrecy and the denial of access to royal archival records distorts and diminishes history.

Forthcoming, current or recent research publications on modern monarchy:

‘New, exclusive letters between the queen and 6 governors-general show the evolution of a relationship of equals’ The Conversation 12 January 2021

‘The Palace letters: Royal secrets and the Whitlam dismissal’ Precedent 166 November 2021 

The Palace Letters: The Queen, the Governor-General and the Plot to dismiss Gough Whitlam Scribe Publishing. November 2020

‘At Her Majesty’s pleasure: Sir John Kerr and the royal dismissal secrets’ Australian Book Review 420 April 2020

‘Archival secrets and hidden histories – Reasserting the right to public access’ Griffith Review 67 ‘Matters of Trust’ February 2020


Dr Cindy McCreery
Department of History, A18 Brennan MacCallum Building, University of Sydney