'What does the first poetry in Australia, written by the Judge who declared the land terra nullius, tell us about the singular nature of colonialism here?
'On 24 February 1817, Barron Field sailed into Sydney Harbour on the convict transport Lord Melville to a ceremonial thirteen-gun salute. He was there as the new Judge of the Supreme Court of Civil Judicature in New South Wales - the highest legal authority in the turbulent colony. Energetic and gregarious, Field immediately set about impressing his vision of a future Australia as a liberal and prosperous nation. He courted the colony's leading figures, engaged in scientific research and even founded Australia's first bank. He also wrote poetry: in 1819, he published First Fruits of Australian Poetry, the first book of poems ever printed in the country. In England, Field had been the theatre critic for The Times, and a friend of such major Romantic writers as William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb and Leigh Hunt. In New South Wales, he saw the chance to become a major figure himself…' (Publication summary)