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A new biography of sir James Martin.

James Martin was one of our earliest writers. He wrote a small book of Essays which was published by James Tegg in 1836 called The Australian Sketchbook. In it he wrote a series of articles about local scenes in New South Wales. He, like his school fellow John Lang, was Australian born and had a very local up bringing. Later he became editor of The Atlas a Sydney Journal of Polities, Commerce and Literature. This Journal which I have indexed (see an advertisement in this issue) contains much of Martin's writing not only about politics but about colonial literature, especially poetry. He was a controversial character who violently attacked the Governor and his policies in The Atlas.

It was inevitable that he should become involved in politics. He became a member of the New South Wales parliament eventually becoming Premier. As he said his background was of a man 'springing from the people and educated amongst them'. This distinguished him from the British born dominant group in parliament. His wife was the daughter of a former convict.

His political life was not a smooth one. He lost his parliamentary seat twice and became Premier three times. His legacy is some of the colony's more profound and enduring economic and social reforms. He followed William Cape's advice (Cape was the Headmaster of Sydney College). Cape told his pupils that they would become the leaders of the colony.

In 1872 Martin became the Chief Justice of New South Wales and continued his own legal practice. He brought intellectual power to the bench of the Court and survived great controversy to be remembered for every quality which is necessary to be a great Judge.

He also became very wealthy and had a large mansion on Potts Point, Sydney, surrounded by a magnificent garden which overlooked the harbour. Martin Place in Sydney is named after him

The biography is written by J.M. Bennett who has also written a biography of Sir Francis Forbes another important early Justice in New South Wales who was often accused of favouring the convicts and ex-convict members of the community in New South Wales. Not content with that, J.M. Bennett has also written a biography of Sir William Stawell the second Chief Justice of Victoria. He was one of the most important figures in the development of colonial Victoria.

Available from The Federation Press PO Box 45 Annadale NSW 2038 or e-mail:

Bennett, J.M. Sir James Martin. Premier and Chief Justice of New South Wales. $45.00

Sir Francis Forbes First Chief Justice of New South Wales $45.00

Sir William Stawell--Second Chief Justice of Victoria 1857-1886 $45.00

These prices are for direct orders from Federation Press.
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Publication:M A R G I N: life & letters in early Australia
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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Next Article:A new biography of la Perouse.

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