I was born and grew up in New Zealand.

After taking my first degree at Victoria University Wellington Te Herenga Waka, I came to the UK for post-graduate study at Oxford, following which I had an academic career, much of it at the University of Kent where I am Emeritus Professor of Modern Literature and Cultural History.

During my academic career I wrote books on Victorian literature, Pacific explorers and travellers, empire and disease, and islands; contributed to other books on travel writing, modernism, and New Zealand and Pacific writing; and co-edited a research series on postcolonial literature.

Since retiring from academic life, I’ve written a book on the migration of two of my great-grandparents from Scotland to the southern hemisphere (Tasmania, Vanuatu and New Zealand) in the nineteenth century, and recently finished another on cricket and fiction.

Borderland, which combines history, geography, culture, travel writing, politics and memoir, draws on many of the preoccupations which have run through my academic career - marginality, prejudice and stigma for example – but is a first-person narrative written in a more personal style than my academic books.

I live in Deal, facing the Channel and the French coast. Walking, cycling and playing cricket fill much of my leisure time. I’ve kept up a very close connection with my native country of New Zealand which I visit as often as time and money allow.

The Waiting Miner
‘The Waiting Miner’ is a kind of memorial to those killed in the Kent coalfield which I write about in chapter 11.
Sound Mirrors
Sound Mirrors were an acoustic warning system installed around the coast in World War I and the 1920s & 30s until superseded by radar, which I help uncover in chapter 7.