Restless Spirit, Resolute Conviction: The Life and Times of Joseph ‘Ivo’ Evison
At first glance, Joseph Evison's life was a confusion of convictions and contradictions, played out in the pages of the many newspapers he edited and wrote for in New Zealand and Australia. A late nineteenth-century Freethinker, he would go on to edit a Catholic newspaper, just as he would readily criticise the British Empire, in spite of serving in its army and navy. Despite his obvious intricacies, historians have not been kind to Evison, reducing him to a mere one line curiosity, implying that he shifted causes to follow the money or because he was a simple contrarian at heart. However, Evison's unsettled nature means a study of his life and ideologies adds to a number of other histories including those of Freethought, Catholicism, conservatism, colonial settlers, empire, transmission of ideas, reader culture and biographical studies. This thesis therefore attempts to chronicle Evison's life, before arguing that his changing causes was down to deep-seated secularist and libertarian convictions, which left him always fighting for what he perceived as the underdog, against both the state and the Protestant majority. To do so, it not only studies his writing, which remains vibrant and engaging even today, but also his editing style at various newspapers and his speeches during a short-lived political career.