The World, the Flesh and the Devil: The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765–1838

Andrew Sharp


New Zealanders know Samuel Marsden as the founder of the CMS missions that brought Christianity (and perhaps sheep) to New Zealand. Australians know him as ‘the flogging parson’ who established large landholdings and was dismissed from his position as magistrate for exceeding his jurisdiction. English readers know of Marsden for his key role in the history of missions and empire. In this major biography spanning research, and the subject’s life, across England, New South Wales and New Zealand, Andrew Sharp tells the story of Marsden’s life from the inside. Sharp focuses on revealing to modern readers the powerful evangelical lens through which Marsden understood the world. By diving deeply into key moments – the voyage out, the disputes with Macquarie, the founding of missions – Sharp gets us to reimagine the world as Marsden saw it: always under threat from the Prince of Darkness, in need of ‘a bold reprover of vice’, a world written in the words of the King James Bible. Andrew Sharp takes us back into the nineteenth-century world, and an evangelical mind, to reveal the past as truly a foreign country.


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Andrew Sharp is Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Auckland. Since 2006 he has lived in London, and is the author or editor of books including The Political Ideas of the English Civil Wars (1983), Justice and the Māori (1990, expanded 1997), Leap into the Dark: The Changing Role of the State in New Zealand since 1984 (1994), The English Levellers (1998), Histories Power and Loss: Uses of the Past – a New Zealand Commentary (2001 with P. G. McHugh), and Bruce Jesson, To Build a Nation: Collected Writings 1975-99 (2005).

October 2016, 240 x 170 mm, 968 pages, colour illustrations
Hardback, ISBN 978 1 86940 812 1, $75