The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.
'Michael Pembroke is a writer, judge and naturalist. He was born in 1955 and enjoyed a peripatetic childhood traversing the great oceans of the world, living in and travelling to many of the maritime ports of the colonial era.'
His first school was at Sandhurst in the grounds of a military academy and his last on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour. He completed his education at Cambridge and now lives and writes in Sydney and at the cool climate hamlet of Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains. In 2009 he wrote Trees of History and Romance, a paean to nature and poetry, and has contributed literary reviews to the Sydney Morning Herald, including Betjeman by AN Wilson; Six Frigates – How Piracy, War and British Supremacy at Sea Gave Birth to the World’s Most Powerful Navy by Ian W Toll; and Winnie and Woolf by AN Wilson. Edmund Campion, writer, former judge of the Miles Franklin Award and former Chairman of the Literature Fund of the Australia Council, said of his first book…
“a new writer has arrived on the Australian literary scene…[this book] will stay in your mind for a long time, as you wait impatiently for more books by him.”
'Pembroke came to Sydney at the age of 11 and was educated by the Jesuits who taught him Latin and logic. At Sydney University, he studied French and Government, took degrees in Arts and Law and was a contemporary of Geraldine Brooks. At Cambridge, he studied more law and learned to dream. His father was an Australian infantry officer who was awarded the Military Cross for his role in North Korea as a junior platoon commander at the battle of Maryang San. The battle was fought against the Chinese Red Army by an Australian battalion under British command and has been described as ‘one of the finest infantry attacks in the history of the British Army’. On his mother’s side, he is a direct descendant of Nathanial Lucas and Olivia Gascoigne who arrived at Botany Bay in January 1788. Since April 2010, he has been a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.' (Source: Author's website)
In 2018, his work Korea: Where the American Century Began was shortlisted for the General History Prize at the NSW Premier's History Prizes and the Non-Fiction Book Award at the Queensland Literary Awards.
'Arthur Phillip was a career soldier, a mercenary and a spy for the British Empire long before he captained the First Fleet and founded Sydney. Through meticulous research, Michael Pembroke has discovered the amazing story behind Australia's first Governor, Arthur Phillip. The story of Phillip's life takes us through wars with Spain and France, battles, court martials, and the taking of Havana from the Spanish. In his 20s he married a wealthy widow (with a pre-nup agreement) and briefly became a gentleman farmer. The marriage ended in divorce, before such a thing existed in England, but Phillip then became a successful merchant in France and likely spy for England. In 1774 he became a paid mercenary for the Portuguese navy at the behest of the Admiralty u his enemy again was Spain but now in South America. Upon his return to London some years later, the revolution in the American colonies triggered another war with France and then Spain as well. England faced the possibility of its first invasion since 1588 and Phillip became the commander of a 74 gun ship with a crew of 600 men defending the channel. Phillip is revealed to have undertaken secret missions for the Admiralty throughout his career and perhaps was among the first to be a part of the Secret Service. And finally it is revealed that the establishment of the colonies in New South Wales were an extension of Phillips work for England. A trusted and strategic thinker who would make sure that England ruled the waves.' (Publisher's blurb)