Alexandra Hasluck Books

Thomas Peel of Swan River

An account of early settlement at the Swan River Colony published by Oxford University Press in 1965.
by Alexandra Hasluck

Publication Details:
Oxford University Press, 1965
Hardback 273 pp
ISBN: n/a

Cover notes:
"This is the first biography of an extra-ordinary man whose name has been for many years a byword for notorious failure. When Thomas Peel died in December 1865 the newspapers in Western Australia reported the fact in a single line and later writers and historians have constantly labelled him as inefficient, indolent and careless.

Peel's initial Swan River scheme to bring out hundreds of migrants with their stock and equipment to settle them on the land may have been too ambitious. Yet he should be given credit due to him as a pioneer of free emigration and land settlement in Australia who was prepared to back up his ideas in person. His subsequent thirty five years in the colony, when, in his own peculiar way, he did more than most settlers to help its development have also been largely ignored by historians and should be recorded.

All this Alexandra Hasluck has now done in this sensitive, and penetrating portrait of a man who stood out among his contemporaries not only for size but also for oddity. Brave, hardy, enterprising, independent but hospitable according to his means, he bore hardship and disappointment with fortitude and deserves a better history than the reputation that has so far been accorded to him. This book should do much to redress the balance."

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