From outback icon to imperial time lord : 'reinventing' Sir Charles Todd (1910-2010)
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Denis Cryle
Drawing on the work of communication historians, both Australian and overseas, this article makes a case for revisiting and ‘reinventing’ Sir Charles Todd’s dynamic life and notable career over half a century. The author argues for a wider view of ‘Telegraph Todd’ than simply that of outback icon, one which is not merely celebratory in the Victorian tradition of his existing tributes, but which situates Todd firmly within networks of patronage and power, starting with pre-Victorian Britain and extending from his native South Australia across the Australian colonies. Contradictory historical representations of Todd, examined throughout this article, as popular outback icon, and imperial time lord, go to the heart of his complex legacy. In seeking to provide a more balanced perspective, this article focuses on the lesser known perception of Todd as imperial ‘time lord’, to understand his long career and the wider forces in which it was bound up. For this purpose, the author draws on contemporary insights provided by the burgeoning literature on the ‘British World’ in order to better understand Todd’s far-reaching connections and influence.