Catching up

I’ve been a bit quiet of late, trying to write other things and not distract myself with blog posts. I’m currently based at the Centre for Historical Studies at the National Museum, who are generously supporting me as an Early Career Summer Fellow to work on my book about Anglo-Chinese Australians and the Immigration Restriction Act (well, that’s one variation of how to describe the book…). It’s such a luxury to be able to spend my days working on the book, instead of trying to fit it in around my real job. If only writing my book were my real job. Sigh.

One of the delightful things of late has been that I have had the time to embark upon correspondence with people around Australia, New Zealand, indeed, the world. One of those correspondents is Natalia Hooker, who is working on a biography of her late grandfather, LJ Hooker. Hooker was born Leslie Joseph Tingyou in 1903 and changed his name by deedpoll in 1925. His Chinese background only came out publicly after his death in 1985.

By one of those strange but really not uncommon coincidences, when Natalia shared information about her extended family with me, I recognised the name of one of LJ’s cousins. As the son of a migrant Chinese father and Anglo-Chinese mother, he was someone I’d ‘met’ in the archives and it was interesting to hear a little more about him, including that he’d apparently fathered a child at a rather young age! It is also further proof that everyone is related to everyone else – well, at least as far as the NSW Chinese community was concerned.

Natalia is interested to hear from anyone with LJ Hooker related memories, information or photographs. Her website is

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