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Arthur Phillip : Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy - Michael Pembroke

Arthur Phillip

Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy

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Australians know Arthur Phillip as the first Governor of the colony of New South Wales. But few know the real story of this mercurial man. 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 - 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 Phillip's work for England. A trusted and strategic thinker who would make sure that England ruled the waves.

About the Author

Michael Pembroke is a published author and a Supreme Court judge.

Industry Reviews

‘At long last, a finely written biography of the astonishing egalitarian who became Australia’s founding father. There are gripping descriptions of his amazing sea voyages and moving accounts of the humanity he brought to the government of a penal colony that only he thought would ever become a nation. The book shows the moral vision of a man who gave history its best example of the possibility of the Reformation of the human spirit.’
Geoffrey Robertson QC

‘A gripping life of a quite extraordinary man: the most important enlightenment life story that we’ve never had properly told before.’
Andrew Marr, BBC broadcaster and television host

‘The colour and dash of Arthur Phillip’s extraordinary life, lived in amazing times in every corner of the world, is told just brilliantly in Michael Pembroke’s utterly absorbing book, designed to become a classic of Imperial literature.’
Simon Winchester, bestselling author and journalist

Arthur Phillip


Very interesting & an excellent book of historical significance

Tamworth NSW


I am buying this book as a must-have.


This book is a perfect book.. well written, looks good (good quality paper,good binding ), easy to read (lines are one and a half spaces apart, language flows smoothly, footnotes are thoughtfully arranged, research is thorough, coverage is very, very comprehensive but easy to absorb,). Phillip's life is fully covered, including ships on which he served, battles he survived. A must-have for every Australian.



A Fascinating Read


Fascinating insights into the career and personality of Australia's founding Governor




4.7 3


ISBN: 9781742705088
ISBN-10: 1742705081
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 1st August 2013
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 16.4  x 3.3
Weight (kg): 18.7
Edition Number: 1