Book review:The Life of Peter Field

Peter Field by JBF.JPG

John Field (2015)

‘Boots, shoes and seeds: the Life of Peter Field’

self-published (available from 10 High St., Burnside, SA 5066)

256 pp. paperback

includes bibliography and index


John Field has written about the life of his great grandfather, Peter Field (1851-1936). The author has produced this book on quality paperstock and in colour with many illustrations. The first 160 pages are devoted to describing the life of Peter and his wife Sarah and their descendants. It is the story of a boy brought up in an English workhouse, migrating to Australia and settling in Toowoomba. There he established a very successful business in shoe manufacture. He had a number of stores in towns in southern Queensland. These 160 pages are freed from footnotes and endnotes and excessive detail which can ‘bog down’ a family history so easily. It flows well and gives one a wonderful view of business in an Australian town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. John Field has managed this by having an 80-page section in tabular form giving a Timeline and Sources. The minutae, the detail and the endnotes are found here for each chapter. This rather novel approach to biography has worked really well – it is a good reason for all family history writers to view this book. A great record of the history of Toowoomba and surrounding areas.

John won last year’s first prize of the Don Grant Award for historical biography with a family history emphasis (Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies) very deservedly. I should declare that John was a former work colleague of mine. I have known him for many years.

I am planning to release a number of other book reviews  in coming weeks: [His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet; Dropping Out by Dani de Valera; Margaret Flockton by Louise Wilson].

Martin Playne