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Sir James Martin

(1820—1886) politician and judge in Australia


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(1820–86), born County Cork, Ireland, was brought to Sydney as an infant by his parents and was educated at W.T. Cape's academy. In 1838 his The Australian Sketch Book, a collection of fifteen essays imitative of Washington Irving, was published; with the possible exception of Henry Savery's The Hermit of Van Diemen's Land (1830) it was the first book of essays published in Australia and included ‘The Pseudo-Poets’, which criticised Charles Harpur, Charles Tompson and others. Martin contributed to the Australian after leaving school and was its acting editor in 1839; in 1845–47 he was editor and manager of the Atlas. He qualified as a solicitor in 1845 and in 1848 began a long career in conservative politics which culminated in the premiership of NSW (1863–64, 1866–68, 1870–72). Knighted in 1869, Martin was a distinguished chief justice of the colony in 1873–86. He gave his name to Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney and is the subject of Elena Grainger's Martin of Martin Place (1970). Anthony Trollope regarded him as the best Australian speaker he heard in his time in Australia.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.


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