Lord SydneyThe life and times of Tommy Townshend
William Charles WentworthAustralia's greatest native son
Air Disaster CanberraThe plane crash that destroyed a government
From the time I was a toddler and first pulled books off my parents’ shelves, printed images and words have fascinated me. But it was only after 30 years in law and politics that I developed enough confidence to write a book.
After obtaining so-so results at law school and doing rather better in history, I practised as a barrister in Sydney before being elected to the NSW Parliament in 1988.
For eleven years, I sat on the front bench, among other things as shadow attorney-general and shadow leader of the House. In those jobs, I wrote my own press releases and soon learned that if the point I wanted to make could not be expressed on one A4 page, I was wasting my time.
It dawned on me that if I didn’t get a journalist’s attention by the middle of line one of the first paragraph, I was still wasting my time. Every word had to count. Having been indifferent to The Old Man and the Sea at school, I now appreciated Ernest Hemingway’s spare prose. And I better understand why my favourite composer is Jean Sibelius. 'Never write an unnecessary note', he said. 'Every note must live'.
I began dabbling in writing and in history which had been my favourite subject at school. After obtaining a contract with a publisher to write the first book length biography of William Charles Wentworth, I left Parliament in 2007. In 2010, William Charles Wentworth, Australia’s greatest native son won ‘The Nib’ CAL Waverley Award for Literature.
My second book, Lord Sydney [the life and times of Tommy Townshend], was released in mid-December 2011. This first comprehensive biography of Lord Sydney is now in its fourth printing.
Air Disaster Canberra the plane crash that destroyed a government, my third book, was released in April 2013. And I have since been contracted by NewSouth Publishing to write a narrative history of 20th century Australia.
To me, the importance of books was best expressed by the Scottish philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881):
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