‘Les Jauncey, radical Australian historian and person of interest to the FBI: Part I’, Honest History, 25 July 2017
Leslie Cyril Jauncey (1899-1959) has been a fellow traveller in the Honest History enterprise almost since the beginning. (We feel we know him so well, we’ll take the liberty of calling him ‘Les’, though he probably answered to this only as a very young man.) Along for the ride – or probably more in the driver’s seat – has been Beatrice Eva Edmonds Fripp Jauncey (1895-1996), who married Les in 1934 and actually called him ‘Bill’.
When we started the website in late 2013, we wanted a name for a column containing miscellaneous jottings on aspects of history. We thought of calling the column ‘Herodotus’ or ‘Thucydides’, but settled on something to do with Jauncey, the author of ground-breaking Australian books on the conscription struggles during World War I and on banking, because … well, just because he looked kind of interesting and a bit mysterious.
The FBI also thought Les/Bill was a bit mysterious. They had a file on him – and that is what this post (and Part II to come) is about. The material is of interest, not just for the insights it gives into the life of an eccentric and wandering couple in a world long gone, but for what it tells us about what happens when societies and their agents become paranoid. And that is a lesson for the ages.