State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 83 May 2009


Des Cowley
Unique Copy or Clandestine Edition?:
the ‘Fraser’ copy of Frank Hardy's Power without Glory

‘ … no recognized publisher would touch the job with a forty-foot pole’ (Frank Hardy)

Premises of Fraser & Jenkinson in Queen Street, Melbourne c. 1935.
Arthur Fraser is at the wheel of the car. Collection of John Fraser.

In January 2005, the State Library of Victoria was the recipient of a generous donation of a most unusual copy of Frank Hardy's classic Australian novel Power without Glory (1950). The copy comprises four volumes, with the pages of text printed on one side only. Each volume has been side stapled, with three staples per volume. The front covers to each volume consist of plain red card, and the back covers straw board. The spines of each volume have been reinforced with brown cloth tape. Inscribed upon the front of each volume by hand is the relevant chapters contained therein. There are no title pages to the volumes, or preliminaries, nor is there any printer or publisher statement. The familiar Ambrose Dyson
illustrated initials that grace the early editions of the novel are present in only eight of the novel's fourteen chapters. In its rudimentary construction, the copy resembles nothing so much as the clandestine or samizdat printings of suppressed literature that circulated in Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe during the Cold War.
The copy of Power without Glory was donated by John Fraser,1 the son of Arthur Fraser, at whose family printing business, Fraser & Jenkinson, it is believed to have been produced. Fraser & Jenkinson was a long-running Melbourne printer and publisher, first registered in July 1894.2 The business premise was originally in Fleming Place, off 359 Little Collins Street, but by 1908, Fraser & Jenkinson had moved to 343 Queen Street. The firm had a long history of involvement with the Left, having printed numerous anti-conscription leaflets during the First World War, and published works such as Frank Anstey's Red Europe (1919), George Lansbury's Red Russia in 1920 (1920), and The New Communist Manifesto (1919). At the end of the Second World War, the firm was being managed by Arthur Fraser, a dedicated Labor Party supporter who unsuccessfully stood for State Parliament in 1945.3
By the 1940s, Fraser & Jenkinson were operating out of several premises at 341–345 Queen Street. A major source of the firm's printing work in the years following WWII came from the unions based in the Victorian Trades Hall, located on the corner of Victoria and Lygon Streets. John Fraser retains a clear boyhood memory of accompanying his father, Arthur, on his daily rounds to and from Trades Hall, during the school holidays, collecting copy and dropping off proofs. To staff there Arthur was known as ‘Chook’, and young John as ‘Titch’.
The mystery surrounding the printing and publishing of Frank Hardy's Power without Glory has long been acknowledged. Hardy's novel, which traced the political and financial rise of Melbourne businessman and Labor Party supporter John West, was based on extensive research into the real-life John Wren. The fact that the book was supported by the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), and both critiqued the anti-communist activities of the Catholic Church and corruption within the Victorian Labor Party, meant that it was potentially explosive stuff. In the end, Hardy would find himself facing trial for the criminal libel of Ellen Wren, wife of John Wren, after having depicted her as having an adulterous affair in the novel.
Hardy published his own account of the novel's production and subsequent trial in The Hard Way (1961). Writing about himself in the guise of his alter ego Ross Franklyn, Hardy states:
He knew that, just as no recognized publisher would touch the job with a forty-foot pole, none of the printeries would take it as an ‘outside’ job. His plan was to do the printing himself and to have the other processes [ie. collating, binding] done in different places.4
One of the outcomes of Hardy's strategy to farm out these different processes was that few of those involved were party to the full narrative of the book's complex chain of production. This fact has only added to the book's mystery and notoriety. Hardy's own account is long
on justification, but at times is frustratingly short on detail. It certainly downplays the key role that the Communist Party of Australia played in financially supporting the book from
its earliest inception.5
More recently both Pauline Armstrong's book Frank Hardy and the Making of Power without Glory (2000) and Jenny Hocking's Frank Hardy: politics, literature, life (2005) have done much to fill in the gaps left by Hardy's account. Between them, they have established as approximate a narrative timeline for the book's production as we are likely to get.6
It was in order to minimize CPA involvement that the decision was made that Hardy would organise the book's printing himself. To this end he set up the Realist Printing and Publishing Company. Printing of the first edition by Hardy, assisted by Ernie Bowles and Vic Little, both CPA printers, began around Christmas 1949, at Batten's Printery in Collins Street. Throughout, Hardy was ably assisted by George Seelaf, secretary of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union. The sixteen page metal formes that had been set by compositor Les Barnes at the CPA's Federal Press were delivered to Batten's and afterwards collected. As the printing of the thirty-two page sections – the standard unit of production – were completed, they were removed and stored for safe keeping at the houses of friends and CPA members. Because of the expense of the metal for typesetting the text, it was regularly melted and recycled throughout the process, with understandably little thought given to further editions. Collation, folding and binding of the first edition appears to have been carried out by a number of means, from commercial production through to the use of volunteers working in their homes.7
It is unclear how many copies of the first edition were produced by these means, but estimates place it at between 5,000–10,000 copies,8 a remarkable feat given the secretive and sporadic nature of the operation that stretched over a seven-month period. Certainly it is far from an uncommon book on the market today. Among its more striking features are the fourteen illustrated initials, contributed by Ambrose Dyson, which began each chapter and which are also used on the book's dustjacket.
The first edition of Power without Glory is dated April 1950, but it seems more likely that it was early August 1950 before Hardy had substantial numbers of copies in a completed state ready for sale.9 This is partly borne out by the revision of the April date to ‘August 1950’ in the novel's second edition, by the book having been launched at the Melbourne Athenaeum in Collins Street on 3 August 1950, and by the first notices about it appearing in Melbourne newspapers that month. Though some copies found their way into bookshops, particularly those sympathetic to the CPA,10 by far the greater number was marketed via CPA networks and direct sales to trade unions and workers on the factory floor. So successful was this marketing that a second edition, dated October 1950, was issued to meet with demand.11 A third edition was printed in February 1951, and a fourth edition, the first in paperback form, in August 1951.
Hardy's personal ordeal in 1950 was almost inseparable from the political climate

The ‘Fraser’ copy of Frank Hardy's Power without Glory in four volumes.
State Library of Victoria collection.

operating in Australia at that time. The facts are well known. On 20 October, the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 was passed into law by the Government of Prime Minister Robert Menzies. Five days later, Hardy was arrested and charged with criminal libel of Ellen Wren. The Act was challenged in the High Court in November 1950, and four months later was declared unconstitutional. Committal proceedings against Hardy began on 27 November 1950, and his case would run until 18 June 1951, when a jury cleared him of the charge. Menzies, undeterred by the High Court decision, proposed a referendum for 22 September 1951 to change the Constitution to allow Parliament to enact laws in relation to Communists and Communism. This referendum was narrowly defeated. Hardy would later describe the climate of fear in which his novel was published:
The several court hearings were spread over nine months from October 1950 to June 1951. During that time a ‘Defend Hardy Committee’ conducted a vigorous campaign

The opening chapter of the ‘Fraser’ copy of Frank Hardy's Power without Glory without the Ambrose Dyson illustrated initial letter and the opening chapter of the first edition with the Dyson initial letter.
State Library of Victoria collection.

in my defence. This campaign merged with a wider struggle in defence of democratic liberties which began in opposition to the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950 and ended in the great fight for the NO victory in the Referendum of 1951.
The Communist Party Dissolution Act, unpopularly known as the Red Bill, was, as its name implied, designed to outlaw the Communist Party, but its clauses made provision for almost any person or organization to be ‘declared’ and so rendered ‘criminal’. It created an atmosphere of fear and hysteria in which the Power without Glory case was fought out.12
This climate of political fear goes a long way toward explaining the lack of recorded documentation about the printing and production processes of the early editions of Power without Glory. None of the first four editions, dated between April 1950 and August 1951, bears a statement of publisher or printer other than ‘Printed in Melbourne by the Realist Printing and Publishing Co.’ or‘Printed by the Realist Printing and Publishing Co.’, of which Hardy was the sole trader. A number of printing and associated firms have been variously linked with stages in the printing and production of the novel, including the Federal Press,
Batten's Printery, the Argus, Industrial Printing and Publicity Company, Wilke Printers, Thos Urquhart & Sons Printers, Trade Composition, Dudley King Linotypers, and engravers Prebble & James. Hardy makes further reference to five printers approached about a second edition ‘scattered around the outer suburbs’ of Melbourne.13 Then there were the trained volunteers who assisted with hand-folding and collating of the printed sheets, as well as binding, along with the safe houses in which printed sheets were stored for safekeeping. If it was Hardy's intent to cover his tracks, he couldn't have done a better job.
The printing firm of Fraser & Jenkinson is not generally cited as having played a role in the publication of Hardy's novel. To date, Pauline Armstrong's Frank Hardy and the Making of Power without Glory is one of the few published accounts that makes reference to the four-volume ‘Fraser’ copy of Power without Glory.14 She regarded it as a proof copy in signature form15 and it is perhaps useful to quote her comments in their entirety:
In April / May 1950 another edition had been ordered from Fraser & Jenkinson, who had long been associated with the Labor Party. During the protracted absence of the managing director, Arthur (“Chook”) Elmslie Fraser, in Queensland, his manager had accepted the order. Dudley King & Sons had undertaken the typesetting. When Fraser returned to Melbourne for a short visit, he was greatly disturbed when he became aware of the subject of the novel, and stopped production. When his widow later found a copy of Power without Glory in signature form, she realised it was of historic significance. It appears to be identical, both in typeface and paper, to the April 1950 first edition. However, on examination, there are slight variations in the length of lines and odd variation in spacing. This copy is now in the possession of their son, John Fraser, who had always believed that it was an early ‘underground’ copy of the novel.16
Armstrong is correct in noting minor differences in the setting of the text between the April 1950 first edition and the ‘Fraser’ copy. What is perhaps surprising is her reference to the two being identical in ‘paper’, as the ‘Fraser’ copy is clearly printed on galley proof paper, which was generally a cheaper stock than that used in finished books, in this case probably newsprint.17 Her acknowledgement, however, that John Fraser has long believed it represents ‘an early underground copy’ of the novel is accurate.
John was thirteen years of age at the time. His father, Arthur, the proprietor of the family business, was suffering poor health, and hated the Melbourne winter. During the first-term school holidays in 1950, the family headed north to holiday at Caloundra, in Queensland. Arthur, along with his wife and John's twin sisters, arranged to stay on in a rented house at Caloundra till September, while John returned to Melbourne to continue school. During that time, John remembers that his father visited Melbourne on two occasions. His second visit in July 1950 was the last time John saw his father. On 15 September 1950, as the family were making the return trip to Melbourne, Arthur suffered a massive stroke in Brisbane and died there.
Subsequent to Arthur's death, John's mother Dorothy, who had not been part of the formal workforce for fourteen years, attempted to run the printing firm on a temporary basis. It was toward the end of 1950 that she discovered, according to John,‘that our printing
firm had illicitly produced many copies of the underground copy of Power without Glory’.18 She had uncovered, in a mezzanine loft above the women's toilets at the Queen's Street printing premises, a number of these copies stored there. By this time, Frank Hardy was on trial for criminal libel, and the case was prominent in the press. John's mother understandably feared serious legal repercussions, including loss of the business, should Fraser & Jenkinson be found to be associated with the printing of the novel.
John remembers accompanying his mother to the Queen's Street premises on a Sunday morning. With his greater agility, he was dispatched up a ladder to the loft, where he remembers retrieving about ten copies of Hardy's novel (ie. some forty volumes), that were hidden there in a sack. At his mother's direction, John buried them deep in a paper-recycling container, from which they were presumably removed and recycled as waste paper. The Fraser family retained one copy, the one donated to the State Library of Victoria, for reference purposes.
As John notes, the four-volume copy of Power without Glory was produced by a method that was laborious but simple. John describes19 this method as follows:
All the printing was carried out on a slip galley proofing press using linotype metal for the text, composed into individual pages containing headlines, page numbers and in most cases elaborate initials for the commencement of chapters. The final result as you can see was the total ‘book’ of 672 pages divided into four volumes as follows:
Volume I: Chapter 1 to Chapter 4 (pp. 5–144)
Volume II: Chapter 5 to Chapter 7 (pp. 145–318)
Volume III: Chapter 8 to Chapter 10 (pp. 319–486)
Volume IV: Chapter 11 to Chapter 14 (pp. 487–[672])
Remembering the slip galley proofing paper was 30 inches by 6 inches,20 the long galley proofs, printed one side only, were collated in sequence [into four volumes], rigid straw board backing applied with a front cover of Binders card, side stapled (three staples to a volume), then supported by wrap around binders cloth.
John has always believed that copies in this form, run off illicitly by staff at Fraser & Jenkinson, were produced to raise money to assist with the publication of the first authentic edition of the novel. John remains convinced that his father, Arthur, never knew that this work had taken place at the firm's premises. He admits that he has no idea how many copies may have been run off in this way. His mother later claimed that the copies sold for around ‘a week's wage for a tradesman,21 a substantial sum for a novel in 1950.
John admits today that he wishes he had taken a greater interest in the copy of Power without Glory that has effectively been in his family possession from 1950 until 2005. In particular, he regrets not questioning his mother further while she was alive, given she may have spoken to staff at Fraser & Jenkinson at the time. As a teenager, John understandably had little interest in the events and notoriety surrounding Hardy's novel at the time. Certainly, his remembered account leaves us with as many questions as answers.
Pauline Armstrong's research, as noted, has established that work on the printing of
the sheets for the first edition of Hardy's novel began around Christmas 1949, substantially earlier than the ‘Fraser’ copy could have been printed. The latter is most likely to have been produced between April and July 1950. The fact that new typesetting was carried out for the printing undertaken at Fraser & Jenkinson does point to its being, as Armstrong surmises, preliminary work for a second edition. As noted, there remains some doubt as to when Hardy had some or all of the finished and bound copies of the ‘April 1950’ first edition in his hands.22 Given the secrecy surrounding the printing, collation, and binding of the first edition, it is likely that Hardy had few copies to distribute before August. Given the mounting costs Hardy must have faced during the life of this self-publishing venture,23 beginning in late December 1949, it is not impossible to imagine a scenario whereby a small number of illicit copies run off at Fraser & Jenkinson might have been used to raise funds to assist completion of work on the first edition; or run-off for some other related purpose. But, in the face of scant evidence, it remains a scenario only. To date, no further copies of the four-volume ‘state’ of Power without Glory, aside from the ‘Fraser’ copy, have come to light.
The absence of other recorded copies of the four-volume ‘state’ of Hardy's novel lends credence to Armstrong's claim that the ‘Fraser’ copy is, in effect, a one-off proof copy. Yet it neither resembles a standard set of galley proofs run off for author corrections, nor does it resemble a publisher's dummy, the intention of which is to mimic the look of the completed product. If nothing else, the ‘Fraser’ copy resembles a book that has been prepared, albeit in rudimentary fashion, in such a way as to be read.
Aside from Pauline Armstrong's brief description of the ‘Fraser’ copy in her account of the making of Power without Glory, there has been little other evidence, to date, concerning any involvement of Fraser & Jenkinson in the printing and publishing history of Hardy's novel. Ed Snell24 was an apprentice at Fraser & Jenkinson in 1950, and recollects meeting Frank Hardy and George Seelaf on the premises, after he was given the job of making up the pages of Power without Glory. Ed believes that the manager at the time, acting in the absence of Arthur Fraser in Queensland, agreed to Fraser & Jenkinson undertaking this work. He believes he was assigned the job because, as indentured labour, it meant that the firm was protected against any possible litigation in relation to the book's subject matter. He remembers that the typesetting of the novel was carried out by Fraser & Jenkinson on an ‘A Model Intertype’ machine. It is possible that Dudley King Linotypers Pty Ltd, operating out of the same premises as Fraser & Jenkinson at 341–45 Queen Street, may also have carried out some of the typesetting. Ed's work involved laying the linotype into galleys and printing off two sets of proofs, one for editorial corrections and one for the premises. These galley proofs, which contained running titles and page numbers, were run-off in standard fashion, not collated and bound into volumes as per the ‘Fraser’ copy. Ed in fact has no recollection of seeing a copy or copies of Power without Glory in the four-volume form of the ‘Fraser’ copy. He confirms that the job of printing galley proofs at Fraser & Jenkinson did
not progress to the metal type being locked into sixteen-page formes, in readiness for printing an edition of the novel. It is his belief that Arthur Fraser, during one of his return visits to Melbourne, got wind of the job and put an immediate stop to it. Ed remembers that one morning, he arrived to find that all of the galleys and type had been removed from the premises of Fraser & Jenkinson and transferred, he believes, to the Coronation Press,25 where they were subsequently printed.
Ed Snell's account corresponds closely with Pauline Armstrong's in Frank Hardy and the Making of Power without Glory. If Armstrong is correct in considering the ‘Fraser’ copy a unique proof copy, then it would stand to reason that the second set of page proofs Ed Snell printed off for the premises was later guillotined, collated, and stapled into its current four-volume form. Against this, however, we have John Fraser's very clear recollection of having destroyed some ten copies secreted away in a loft at Fraser & Jenkinson. The very existence of these copies points to work having been carried out at the premises, most probably unauthorised and at night, to produce a very small run or ‘edition’ of Power without Glory.
Pauline Armstrong has rightly conceded that, due to the secretive nature of the way Power without Glory came into being, ‘it is impossible to establish just how many copies and how many editions were printed during that stressful period from December 1949 until Hardy's acquittal, on the charge of libel, on 18 June 1951. It is unlikely that any one person, including the author himself, was aware of every link in the chain of events that brought the novel in to being’.26 A comparison of the State Library of Victoria copies, for example, identifies at least six variant states, reflecting differences in either text or binding or in some cases both, of the first two editions of the novel alone. The ‘Fraser’ copy is probably best thought of as direct evidence of a further link in this chain. In its rudimentary form, it provides testament to an extraordinary juncture of literature and politics in this country, a time when private imagination and public fear seemed momentarily united.


The author is grateful to John Fraser, the original owner of the copy under discussion. Much of the personal and family information in this article is derived from: a two-page statement written by John, dated November 2004, and interviews conducted with John by the author on 10 February 2009 and 17 February 2009. The author is also grateful to several individuals who looked at the ‘Fraser’ copy of Power without Glory and provided their opinions: Rob Blackmore, Tom Darragh, David Harris, Don Hauser, Professor Jenny Hocking, and Peter Marsh.


Thomas A. Darragh, Printer and Newspaper Registration in Victoria 1838–1924 Wellington, NZ: Elibank Press, 1997, p. 31.




Frank Hardy, The Hard Way, London: T Werner Laurie, 1961, p. 128.


Pauline Armstrong, Frank Hardy and the Making of Power without Glory, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2000, p. 64.


The brief summary presented is drawn from Armstrong, Frank Hardy, pp. 64–76, and Jenny Hocking, Frank Hardy: politics, literature, life, South Melbourne, Vic.: Lothian Books, 2005, pp. 67–73.


A comparison of first edition copies registers noticeable differences in quality of the bindings.


The Argus, 12 Sept 1950, notes that the novel ‘has completely sold out of its first edition of 7,800 copies’. Hocking, Frank Hardy, p. 70, states: ‘By the time of its official launch at the Athenaeum Gallery, the small first print run of 5000 had completely sold out’. Hardy, The Hard Way, p. 134, states: ‘when the book at last appeared only 7,200 were gleaned out of 8,000 sheets printed’. Armstrong, Frank Hardy, p. 72, states: ‘ten thousand copies’.


Hardy, The Hard Way, p. 135, states that it was ‘early in August 1950’ that he ‘sat in the lounge room of his villa flat flicking through the first completed copy of Power without Glory’.


See John Sendy, Melbourne's Radical Bookshops, Melbourne: International Bookshop, 1983.


A further comparison of textual variants between first and second editions shows that sections from either were routinely bound up together, making the concept of ‘edition’ in this case problematic.


Hardy, The Hard Way, p. 8.


Ibid., p. 144.


Don Hauser, Printers of the Streets and Lanes of Melbourne, Melbourne: Nondescript Press, 2006, pp. 66–67, includes a brief account of the story.


Armstrong's reference to the copy being in ‘signature form’ is not strictly accurate, as the volumes appear to have been assembled as single leaves, rather than sections.


Armstrong, Frank Hardy, pp. 73–74.


An improvement in paper quality can be noted in the final pages of the third volumes, and in the fourth volume.


From a two-page statement written by John Fraser, dated November 2004.




Printer and printing historian Peter Marsh believes that it is more likely the sheets were printed two-up (i.e., two pages at a time) rather than four, as John Fraser suggests.


Fraser statement, November 2004.


Hardy, The Hard Way, p. 131, for example, notes that he was still re-writing the last three chapters at the same time as earlier sections of the novel were being printed.


Hardy, The Hard Way, pp. 133–34, records a rising debt of ‘almost £2,000’ prior to the book's appearance, and a further instance of successfully raising £450 within a week to meet a binding payment.


Interviews with Ed Snell conducted by the author on 21 February and 6 March 2009. Reference to Ed Snell's involvement first appeared in Don Hauser, Printers of the Streets and Lanes of Melbourne, p. 66.


Pauline Armstrong, Frank Hardy, pp. 81–82, records another run of the novel being partly printed at Industrial Printing and Publishing in 1950; however, Albie Heintz's recollections indicate this printing was newly typeset, and therefore it appears unconnected to the work at Fraser & Jenkinson.


Armstrong, Frank Hardy, p. 74.