The Expatriates

The Expatriates

The connection between a colony and its founder, centre and margin, is always paradoxical. Where once Britain sent colonists out into the world, now the descendants of those colonists return to interrogate the centre.

This is a book about four of these returners: Harold Williams, journalist, linguist, Foreign Editor of The Times; Ronald Syme, spy, libertarian, historian of ancient Rome; John Platts-Mills, radical lawyer and political activist; and Joseph Burney Trapp, librarian, scholar and protector of culture. 

These were men, born in remote New Zealand, who achieved fame in Europe – even as they were lost sight of at home. Men who became, from the point of view of their country of origin, expatriates.

A writer of penetrating insight, Martin Edmond explores the intersections of past and present in the lives of these four extraordinary individuals. Their stories combine, in the hands of this award-winning writer, to a moving reflection upon New Zealand’s place in the world, then and now.

Available in paperback and ebook formats using the ‘Buy’ buttons on this page. For more information on these purchase options please visit our Sales FAQs page or contact us.

Print publication:
Ebook publication: Nov 2017
Pages: 328
RRP: $49.99
ISBN: 9781988533179
DOI: 10.7810/9781988533179

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'The Godwit Guys', Landfall, June 2018.

'Martin Edmond', Unity Books, 17 May 2018.

Jim Sullivan, 'Fine collection of mini-biographies', Otago Daily Times, 19 February 2018.

'The Monday Extract: A rogue’s gallery of ‘fatal New Zealanders’', The Spinoff, 12 February 2018.

'Book review: The Expatriates by Martin Edmond', David Herkt, Stuff, 10 December 2017.

'Martin Edmond’s deft and illuminating new book - The Expatriates', Radio Live, 4 December 2017.


'This book, although deeply informed, contains no forest of footnotes and no bibliography. It is an extension of, and tribute to, the life’s work of James McNeish, without sacrificing any degree of authorial independence. The result is gracefully written, handsomely produced and likely to propagate many further works of its kind.' - Mark Derby, 'Living Abroad', Scoop Review of Books, 29 March 2018.