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Talented, well trained and confident in his own abilities and worth, Australia's first government architect was also hot-headed and tactless. Sentenced to death for forgery, then granted a last-minute reprieve, Francis Greenway was transported to New South Wales in 1814. Within a single eventful decade, Greenway's and Goverr Lachlan Macquarie's transformation of Sydney from a ramshackle convict garrison into an elegant city was well under way with buildings like the Hyde Park Barracks, St James' Church, Supreme Court and Windsor courthouse. Award-winning author Alasdair McGregor - in the first biography of Greenway since 1953 - scrutinises the life and work of a man beset by contradictions and demons. He profiles Greenway's landmark buildings, his meteoric rise and his complex and fraught relationship with Goverr Macquarie, along with his thwarted ambitions and self-destruction. All played out in a fledgling colony in the throes of change from far-flung gaol to a society of free settlers. 'Beautifully crafted, superbly evoked - a great tale, told by a master.' -Peter FitzSimons
Alasdair McGregor is a writer and painter based in Sydney. His book Grand Obsessions: The Life and Work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin won the National Biography Award in 2011.