A 'fascinating, lively and often moving book' - John M. MacKenzie, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
A Private Empire explores Britain's imperial past through the eyes and experiences of a single family. Historian Stephen Foster focuses on the Macphersons of Blairgowrie in Scotland, who recorded their private and public lives through five generations in an extraordinary archive of letters, documents and diaries. Elegantly presented with contemporary paintings and photographs, A Private Empire tells an intimate story of ambition and frustration, love and deception, wisdom and folly, pride and shame, passion and restraint, an attachment to place, an affection for kin-all set against the grand shifting background of Britain's imperial rule.
'In a world overpopulated by self-indulgent family histories, A Private Empire is that rarity which makes one keep reading to find out what happened to its cast of strangers.' Stephen Wilks, The Canberra Times
'A remarkably impressive book. The story he tells is an extraordinary one; indeed if it were written in the fictional genre of the family saga you would think he was stretching credulity.' Professor Stuart Macintyre, AO
'Superbly researched and wonderfully revelatory.' Professor John Mackenzie, The Scotsman
'An enthralling read and an important piece of history.' Undiscovered Scotland
Stephen Foster is a historian and museum specialist based in Canberra, where he has lived for the past thirty years. He has served as executive editor of a multi-volume history marking the bicentenary of European settlement in Australia, principal of a heritage consultancy, a general manager at the National Museum of Australia, and a professor at the Australian National University, where he developed graduate programs in museums and collections. For A Private Empire he has travelled often to Scotland, as well as pursuing the story to Guyana, India and remote parts of Australia.